Intel Turns Sights On ARM Server Onslaught With New Xeon D Processors

Companies like Qualcomm have made gains in the server and micro-server markets with ARM-based silicon, but in doing so, they may have woken a sleeping giant in Intel, the world's largest semiconductor player. Intel recognizes the growing market for low-cost, low-power servers, and in addition to its x86 Atom-based solutions, the Santa Clara chip maker just announce its Xeon processor D-1500 product family.

These are Intel's third generation 64-bit System-on-Chip (SoC) solutions and its first Xeon-based SoCs, which are built on a 14nm manufacturing process. With these new chips, Intel is targeting various networking, cloud storage, enterprise storage, and IoT (Internet of Things) applications that operate in dense, rugged environments.

Intel Xeon Processor D

Intel says its Xeon processor D-1500 family can run the same instruction set as its more robust Xeon processors. The importance of that is maintaining software consistency from the data center to the network edge. They also hit the checklist for things like built-in hardware virtualization, x86 64-bit software support, enhanced RAS (Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability) features like support for error-correcting code (ECC) memory, Intel platform storage extensions, and fast encryption and decryption.

Intel Xeon Processor D
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Getting the party started are eight processors.  Three of them are quad-core CPUs, two are six-core parts, and the remaining three are eight-core chips. Each one supports up to 128GB of RAM. They each also have an integrated platform controller hub (PCH), integrated I/O, and two integrated 10 Gigabit Intel Ethernet ports.

The TDP for this initial batch of chips ranges from 35 watts to 45 watts, which brings the performance per watt to as much as 1.7 times that of Intel's Atom processor C2750-based solutions.

Intel is planning to expand its Xeon processor D family with upcoming 12-core and 16-core solutions, which it will release in the first quarter of 2016. As for the current batch, Intel says there are more than 50 designs in development that will utilize its new processors.