In­tel un­veils up­graded Xeon server chips, to fend off ri­vals

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By MA SI

In­tel Corp un­veiled a new gen­er­a­tion of server chips on Wed­nes­day — as the US tech heavy­weight ramps up ef­forts to safe­guard its mar­ket dom­i­nance and de­fend it­self against com­pe­ti­tion from an in­creas­ing num­ber of ri­vals.

The up­grade is also the lat­est move to tap into the Chi­nese mar­ket, where the coun­try’s In­ter­net Plus ini­tia­tive is fu­el­ing an ex­plo­sive growth of in­ter­net data cen­ters.

The Xeon Scal­able Fam­ily pro­ces­sors, In­tel said, can de­liver 1.65 times higher per­for­mance, on av­er­age, over their pre­de­ces­sors, and can bet­ter drive cor­po­rate data cen­ters and the com­put­ing clouds of the in­ter­net gi­ants.

In­tel, the undis­puted leader in the per­sonal com­puter chip mar­ket, also dom­i­nates in the server chip busi­ness. It con­trols about 96 per­cent of such chips, ac­cord­ing to data from mar­ket re­search com­pany In­ter­na­tional Data Corp.

But more play­ers are en­ter­ing the sec­tor. Ad­vanced Mi­cro De­vices Inc, the US semi­con­duc­tor com­pany, launched new server pro­ces­sors days ago.

Qual­comm Inc, whose chips are widely used in smart­phones and tablets, is also mak­ing pro­ces­sors for servers.

Lisa M Davis, vice-pres­i­dent of the Data Cen­ter Group at In­tel, said the up­graded Xeon pro­ces­sors can meet com­pa­nies’ in­creas­ingly di­ver­si­fied de­mands for server per­for­mances.

Xeon chips have four metal-themed fam­i­lies — Plat­inum, Gold, Sil­ver and Bronze — which dif­fer in terms of per­for­mance and fea­tures, rather than server size. They can tar­get spec­i­fied work­loads of dif­fer­ent en­ter­prises, such as tele­coms, cloud and AI tasks, Davis said.

In China, In­tel’s part­ners in­clude Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd, In­spur Group Co Ltd and Su­gon In­for­ma­tion In­dus­try Co Ltd.

Roger Sheng, a se­nior chip an­a­lyst at re­search com­pany Gart­ner Inc, said the lat­est Xeon chips rep­re­sent a good im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion.

The launch tim­ing seems a move de­signed to head off com­pe­ti­tion from AMD, which launched Epyc server pro­ces­sors, Sheng said.

Epyc server pro­ces­sors con­sist of four chips that each fea­tures up to 8 cores in a sin­gle pack­age. Chi­nese search en­gine com­pany Baidu Inc said it will use Epyc chips in its data cen­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional Data Corp, China con­sumed about 3.7 mil­lion units of server chips in 2015, and the fig­ure is ex­pected hit 8.6 mil­lion units by 2020.

Qual­comm plans to start ship­ping China-cus­tom­ized server chips in 2018, through Guizhou Huax­in­tong Semi­con­duc­tor Tech­nol­ogy Co, its joint ven­ture with the Guizhou pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

China’s con­sump­tion of server chips by 2020

XIN­HUA

A worker checks oil trans­port fa­cil­i­ties at the Tarim Basin in Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

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