Saturday, May 18, 2024

Cloud Storage Allies: EMC, Intel

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EMC and Intel have announced a joint effort to improve the energy efficiency of EMC’s Atmos cloud storage system that should be available in the second half of next year.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) is also pursuing a new server design, what it calls “micro-servers,” that will pack the power of a server onto a card no bigger than a PC video card. With some memory and a Nehalem processor, these “micro-servers” can pack a lot of compute power into a small space.

EMC’s Atmos is a hardware and software platform used in large-scale deployments to spread data storage across several distributed datacenters. Earlier this year, EMC (NYSE: EMC) announced a cloud version of Atmos and its first customer, AT&T’s Synaptic pay-as-you-go hosting service.

The biggest step in improved power management will be upgrading the Atmos to more power-efficient Nehalem generation Xeon servers. Other steps include intelligent power management to turn off disks when not in use. The overall strategy is to improve the cost per megawatt of these petabyte-scale storage systems.

This will also be a software solution. Intel’s Node Manager tool works with Nehalem chips to reduce power consumption during idle periods. Also, Data Center Manager software will cap the amount of power drawn by a pool of servers.

Details were scarce and expected to come out as the upgraded Atmos servers approach, some time next year.

Smaller-scale designs

On the smaller scale of things, Intel also showed off its “micro server” prototype, which it announced at the Intel Developer Forum last month. Intel’s

It’s based on a reference design that Intel created to show server makers the kind of product they can build with its chips. Jason Waxman, general manager of Intel’s high-density computing group, stressed that Intel has no intention of going into competition with server vendors and its prototype was just that, a prototype.

The system is a 5U rack that holds 16 server cards, about the size of a GPU card. Each server card has a Xeon L3426 processor, which consumes 45 watts of power, although Intel plans to replace it with a 30-watt chip next year. There are also 16 storage bays.

Intel plans to promote an open spec of the micro-server and hope to publish the spec through the Server System Infrastructure (SSI) organization next year.

Intel also announced the Cloud Builder Program, where it will work with eight software partners — Citrix Systems, VMware, Parallels, Microsoft, Red Hat, Canonical, Univa UD and the Xen consortium — to test various virtualization software workloads across datacenters.

As part of the program, software vendors will test their software on large pools of servers with the goal of coming up with ideal configurations that customers can then replicate in their own datacenters.

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