Intel Xeon Scalable Processors SDDI and SDDC

server storage I/O data infrastructure trends


Recently Intel announced a new family of Xeon  Scalable Processors (aka Purely) that for some workloads Intel claims to be on average of 1.65x  faster than their predecessors. Note your real improvement will vary based on  workload, configuration, benchmark testing, type of processor, memory, and  many other server storage I/O performance considerations.

Intel Scalable Xeon Processors
Image via


In  general the new Intel Xeon Scalable Processors enable legacy and software  defined data infrastructures (SDDI), along with software  defined data centers (SDDC), cloud and other environments to support expanding  workloads more efficiently as well as effectively (e.g. boosting productivity).


Data Infrastructures and workloads


Some  target application and environment workloads Intel is positioning these new  processors for includes among others:

  • Machine  Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, deep learning  and big data
  • Networking  including software defined network (SDN) and network function virtualization  (NFV)
  • Cloud  and Virtualization including Azure Stack, Docker and Kubernetes containers,  Hyper-V, KVM, OpenStack VMware vSphere, KVM among others
  • High  Performance Compute (HPC) and High Productivity Compute (e.g. the other HPC)
  • Storage  including legacy and emerging software defined storage software deployed as appliances,  systems or server less deployment modes.


Features  of the new Intel Xeon Scalable Processors include:

  • New  core micro architecture with interconnects and on die memory controllers
  • Sockets  (processors) scalable up to 28 cores
  • Improved  networking performance using Quick Assist and Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK)
  • Leverages Intel Quick Assist Technology for CPU offload  of compute intensive functions including I/O networking, security, AI, ML, big  data, analytics and storage functions. Functions that benefit from Quick Assist  include cryptography, encryption, authentication, cipher operations, digital  signatures, key exchange, loss less data compression and data footprint  reduction along with data at rest encryption (DARE).
  • Optane Non-Volatile Dual Inline Memory Module  (NVDIMM) for storage class memory (SCM) also referred to by some as Persistent  Memory (PM), not to be confused with Physical Machine (PM).
  • Supports  Advanced Vector Extensions 512  (AVX-512)  for HPC and other workloads
  • Optional Omni-Path Fabrics in addition to 1/10Gb Ethernet  among other I/O options
  • Six memory channels supporting up to 6TB of RDIMM  with multi socket systems
  • From  two to eight  sockets per node (system)
  • Systems  support PCIe 3.x (some supporting x4 based M.2 interconnects)


Note  that exact speeds, feeds, slots and watts will vary by specific server model  and vendor options. Also note that some server system solutions have two or  more nodes (e.g. two or more real servers) in a single package not to be  confused with two or more sockets per node (system or motherboard). Refer to the where to learn more section below for links to Intel benchmarks and other resources.


Software Defined Data Infrastructures, SDDC, SDX and SDDI

What  About Speeds and Feeds

Watch  for and check out the various Intel partners who have or will be announcing  their new server compute platforms based on Intel Xeon Scalable Processors.  Each of the different vendors will have various speeds and feeds options that  build on the fundamental Intel Xeon Scalable Processor capabilities.


For  example Dell EMC announced their 14G server platforms at the May 2017  Dell EMC World event with details to follow (e.g. after the Intel  announcements).


Some  things to keep in mind include the amount of DDR4 DRAM (or Optane NVDIMM) will  vary by vendors server platform configuration, motherboards, several sockets  and DIMM slots. Also keep in mind the differences between registered (e.g.  buffered RDIMM) that give good capacity and great performance, and load reduced  DIMM (LRDIMM) that have great capacity and ok performance.


Various nvme options

What  about NVMe

It's there as these systems like previous Intel models support NVMe devices via PCIe  3.x slots, and some vendor solutions also supporting M.2 x4 physical  interconnects as well.


server storageIO flash and SSD
Image via Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC)


Note that Broadcom formerly known as Avago and LSI recently  announced PCIe based RAID and adapter cards that support NVMe attached devices in addition to  SAS and SATA.


server storage data infrastructure sddi

What  About Intel and Storage

In  case you have not connected the dots yet, the Intel Xeon Scalable Processor  based server (aka compute) systems are also a fundamental platform for storage  systems, services, solutions, appliances along with tin-wrapped software.


What  this means is that the Intel Xeon Scalable Processors based systems can be used  for deploying legacy as well as new and emerging software-defined storage  software solutions. This also means that the Intel platforms can be used to  support SDDC, SDDI, SDX, SDI as well as other forms of legacy and  software-defined data infrastructures along with cloud, virtual, container,  server less among other modes of deployment.

Intel SSD
Image Via


Moving  beyond server and compute platforms, there is another tie to storage as part of  this recent as well as other Intel announcements. Just a few weeks ago Intel announced  64 layer triple level cell (TLC) 3D NAND solutions positioned for the client  market (laptop, workstations, tablets, thin clients). Intel with that  announcement increased the traditional aerial density (e.g. bits per square  inch or cm) as well as boosting the number of layers (stacking more bits as  well).


The  net result is not only more bits per square inch, also more per cubic inch or  cm. This is all part of a continued evolution of NAND flash including from 2D  to 3D, MCL to TLC, 32 to 64 layer.  In  other words, NAND flash-based Solid State  Devices (SSDs) are very much still a relevant and continue to be enhanced  technology even with the emerging 3D XPoint and Optane (also available via Amazon in M.2) in the wings.


server memory evolution
  Via Intel and Micron (3D XPoint launch)


Keep in mind that NAND flash-based technologies were announced almost 20 years ago (1999), and are still evolving. 3D XPoint announced two years ago, along with other emerging storage class memories (SCM), non-volatile memory (NVM) and persistent memory (PM) devices are part of the future as is 3D NAND (among others). Speaking of 3D XPoint and Optane, Intel had announcements about that  in the past as well.


Where To Learn More

Learn  more about Intel Xeon Scalable Processors along with related technology,  trends, tools, techniques and tips with the following links.

What This All Means

Some say the PC is dead and IMHO that depends on what you mean or define a PC as. For example if you refer to a PC generically to also include servers besides workstations or other devices, then they are alive. If however your view is that PCs are only workstations and client devices, then they are on the decline.


However if your view is that a PC is defined by the underlying processor such as Intel general purpose 64 bit x86 derivative (or descendent) then they are very much alive. Just as older generations of PCs leveraging general purpose Intel based x86 (and its predecessors) processors were deployed for many uses, so to are today's line of Xeon (among others) processors.


Even with the increase of ARM, GPU and other specialized processors, as well as ASIC and FPGAs for offloads, the role of general purpose processors continues to increase, as does the technology evolution around. Even with so called server less architectures, they still need underlying compute server platforms for running software, which also includes software defined storage, software defined networks, SDDC, SDDI, SDX, IoT among others.


Overall this is a good set of announcements by Intel and what we can also expect to be a flood of enhancements from their partners who will use the new  family of Intel Xeon Scalable Processors in their products to enable software defined data infrastructures (SDDI) and SDDC.


Ok, nuff said (for now...).