Storage: A New Platform for the Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors

You probably know already that the new Intel Xeon Scalable processors can deliver high performance, security, and versatility for your customers’ data centers. (And if not, see our recent post.)

But did you know that these high-end CPUs also support faster, better, and easier data-center storage?

It’s true. In its new Intel Xeon Scalable processor, Intel has added storage-centric innovations on the processor, chipset accelerators and networking, media and software. Together, these enhancements can help your customers gain storage benefits that include hot-plug capability for NVMe* SSDs and software RAID without needing an extra add-in card.

2 Key Technologies

Many of these benefits are results of 2 key technologies now enabled by the Intel Xeon Scalable processors:

> VROC: Virtual RAID on CPU is a new software package that combines with Volume Management Device (VMD) processor hardware for RAID volume management. With this, storage servers based on the new Intel Xeon Scalable processors can not only connect NVMe drives via a PCIe* connection, but also enable NVMe RAID.

In the past, you would have needed a third-party RAID controller for RAID enablement. Now this is no longer the case. The function is integrated into the CPU, using a hardware key for activation. This allows for higher speeds along the PCIe bus in a more efficient manner. It also eliminates the worry of a third-party card failure in the system.

> VMD: Short for Volume Management Device, it enables hot-swap replacement of NVMe SSDs from the PCIe bus without shutting down the system. SATA drives already offer this; now VMD makes hot-swapping an NVMe SSD just as easy.

In addition, VMD offers LED management. This provides quick identification of SSD status, and lets you service an SSD that’s online — very helpful in a roomful of server racks.

Notably, Intel has shared VMD with its entire storage ecosystem, including OEMs/ODMs and SSD vendors. So your customers can also look for non-Intel storage products running on Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
For example, VMware plans to use VMD in a future release of its vSphere cloud-computing virtualization platform. And custom solution provider Super Micro Computer has just announced a new version of its Rack Scale Design system that supports the new Intel Xeon Scalable processors and high-speed NVMe storage.

Networking, Too

In the data center, storage often involves clustering, and that means networking. So the new Intel Xeon Scalable platform integrates iWARP RDMA Ethernet, allowing one node to quickly get data from another node.

Also, when connecting today’s super-fast SSDs, it’s important to have balanced memory and lane connectivity. To address this requirement, the new Intel Xeon Scalable processors increase both the lane counts and memory channels to increase throughput. 

All that (and more) makes the Intel Xeon processor Scalable family more than a powerful addition to your customers’ data center servers. It’s also an important platform for their data-center storage.