Category: Servers

Flash Memory Summit 2016 – Consolidation?

FMS2016_BannerAd_300x250The Flash Memory Summit 16 will be convening at the Santa Clara Convention Center over August 9 -11, 2016. Flash memory is now established as a key technology enabling new designs for many products in the consumer, computer and enterprise markets.

Storage Crossover

The industry is at a critical juncture where the total cost of ownership for flash based SSD’s achieved crossover with hard disk drive equivalents last September as the enterprise storage medium of choice.

The fact that the number of producers is limited has altered the landscape of consumption with some analysts indicating that serious shortages will exist for some time to come. An interesting, but mitigating fact is that most of the analysts are not technical – the ones that we’ve talked to that have a technical bent are not so sanguine about the availability mix. One item that stands in the road to profits is the need for this next generation storage device to not only retain data but do so interactively without losing bits. The unrecoverable bit boogie man is now staring the industry down. The ability to store immense amounts of “ready data” for execution now depends on the technologies ability to reliably retain data.

All Flash Array producers are now entering the “really big data storage array” market – the battle has dropped down to the cost of storage per dollar creating a whole new category of marketing lows. 3D Flash is now so dense that failure modes are now dependent upon being aware of “how and when” the bits were used during the entire lifetime of the device.

Cork, Ireland NVMdurance was the first to understand this phenomenon and is now firmly embedded in their first customer Altera (now Intel). Pure and Nimble Storage are offering their services for their AFAs – seems that leasing AFA memory is a probable in the future of solid state storage. We’re still left reading the indemnification clauses of their contracts.

Poison Pill

Micron Technology filed with the SEC a poison pill last Friday. The buzz is that the company is once again in play. The likely suitor is none other than Intel according to the lead rumor. We will be talking with Micron and Intel at FMS 16 and although they’ll not say anything about what’s going on we’ll at the very least get to look into their pupils while they’re telling us…,

Microsoft defames system admins

Windows 10System administrators are miffed that Microsoft is trying to shame them into upgrading machines to the new version of the OS.

Domain-joined devices that were blocked from upgrading to Windows 10 have now begun to display the familiar Get Windows 10 icon in the taskbar. If a user clicks the icon, he or she is presented with the screen which says that the System Admin has blocked upgrades to this machine.

The displayed message not only generalises by telling users that “upgrades”, implying all upgrades, have been blocked by the system administrator but also tries to put pressure on admins to upgrade machines to Windows 10.  It basically makes the poor Sys Admin look like they are not doing their job.

This would appear to be a change of heart from Microsoft too. When the company first announced this new push in the business market, it said that domain-joined PCs would only see these type of messages if updates on said devices weren’t managed by WSUS or System Center Configuration Manager. It appears that the messages come up regardless.

US’s ZTE ban backfires

Great-Depression-Unemployment-Line-It seems that the US’s daft ban on ZTE gear is doing more harm to its home-grown businesses which are suffering more.

The U.S. Commerce Department decided to punish ZTE for selling coms gear to the Iranians years ago and issued an export ban on the outfit. However that seems to be punishing a lot of US companies who depend on ZTE’s components or business.

Jose optical-parts maker Oclaro saw its shares plummet because it sells multiple products to ZTE, a maker of mobile devices and telecoms systems.

Chipmaker Integrated Device Technology said the Commerce Department’s ruling “could cause changes to revenue trends” in its quarter ending July 3 its shares fell 1 percent.

Among other suppliers whose shares fell were Lumentum, down 3.3 percent; NeoPhotonics Corp, down 8.6 percent; Fabrinet, down 5.3 percent; Finisar Corp, down 7.7 percent; Inphi Corp, down 7.3 percent; and Skyworks Solutions Inc, down 4.1 percent.
ZTE distributor Avenet fell 1.5 percent.

Qualcomm slid 1.58 percent while its rival MediaTek Inc rose three percent. Any switch by ZTE to replace Qualcomm as a supplier might take several months, because of the need to work out need specifications.

However the worse it yet to come. The worst fallout for US suppliers around ZTE’s telecommunications-infrastructure equipment rather than its handset business.

Still while the US tech industry suffers, at least they can be re-assured that by stuffing themselves up they will be punishing that naughty Chinese telco for breaking a US embargo when the Americans hated the Chinese.

Enterprise server storage worth $9.1 billion

EMC storageWorldwide revenues from enterprise storage systems grew by 2.8 percent in the third quarter and amounted to a figure of $9.1 billion.

That’s according to a report from IDC, which said capacity shipments were up by 31.5 percent compared to the same quarter last year, and amounting to 33.1 exabytes.

Original design manufacturers (ODMs) which sell directly to hyperscale datacentres appeared to do the best, with this section of the market growing by 23.4 percent year on year with revenues of $1.3 billion.

While external storage systems is the biggest market segment, the $5.8 billion of sales showed a fall of 3.1 percent, year on year.

EMC was the leader in the quarter with 18.4 percent of revenues, followed by HP (16.3%), Dell (9.9%), NetApp (7.1%), IBM (6.4%). The ODMs took 13.7 percent share.

Server revenues and shipment numbers up

destroyedserverShipments of servers worldwide in the third quarter of this year grew by 9.2 percent, while vendors’ revenues grew 7.5 percent.

But, according to Jeffrey Hewitt, a research VP at Gartner, there were mixed results depending on the regions. “All regions showed growth in both shipments and vendor revenue, except for Eastern Europe, Japan and Latin America, which posted revenue declines of 5.8 percent, 11.7 percent and 24.2 percent respectively,” he said.

The reason for the differences in regional performance were mostly down to currency fluctuations, he said.

The Asia Pacific region showed a 23.8 percent shipment increase, with revenue growth at 25.4 percent.

HP dominates the worldwide server market, followed by Dell, IBM, Lenovo and Cisco.

IBM showed a decline of 42.8 percent but that’s mostly because it sold its server business to Lenovo. However, its mainframe business grew by 15 percent, Gartner said.

The RISC, Itanium and Unix server revenue declined by 11.5 percent during the quarter.

Intel’s 3D XPoint fixes bottlenecks

bottleneck-constraint-lean-managementChipzilla and Micron have been working on 3D XPoint technology which they say will close the performance gap between memory, CPU, and networking.

Until now details of the project have been kept under wraps, but now it seems the pair are keen to talk about it. All Intel would say is that it promised about 1,000 times the performance of NAND flash, 1,000 times the endurance of NAND flash, and about 10 times the density of DRAM.

3D XPoint technology is a 3D stacked memory with high-speed interconnects that can be used like DRAM and like flash storage.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is now saying that Intel will sell the memory under the Optane brand, and The Next Platform.

Memory is a bottleneck forcing CPUs to wait. Krzanich Optane would speed things up so processors are no longer waiting for data to arrive from memory or storage, in this case flash drives.

Krzanich showed a pair of matching servers. One server had Intel’s P3700 NAND PCI Express SSD and the other was a prototype Optane SSD. The Optane SSD outperformed the P3700 by 4.4 times in IOPS with 6.4 times less latency.

He said that Intel would release Optane next year and will “transform how we think about data and memory and storage.” The company will also come out with Optane DIMMs later this year for early testers. These will combine the performance of DRAM with the capacity and cost of flash.

A two-socket server with Optane DIMMS will have a total of 6 TB of addressable memory, “virtually eliminating paging between memory and storage, taking performance truly to a whole new level.”

Qualcomm is testing its server chips

qualcomQualcomm has been explaining how it is going to get its chips into the server market and is apparently testing its Server Development Platform (SDP)

Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president of Qualcomm demoed its SDP and chatted about the company’s progress within the server market.

Apparently Qualcomm is sampling its chips into tier-one data centres using a pre-production 24-core SoC based on the ARMv8-A instruction set and built using advanced FinFet technology.

Qualcomm claims that the use of its chips in server set ups can reduce costs by more than 40 percent.

Qualcomm is “partnering” with Xilinx to create heterogeneous computing solutions for data centres using Qualcomm’s server processor and Xilinx FPGAs;

Another of its chums is Mellanox which is designing cost effective platforms for servers and storage using interconnect for data transfer and analysis with Qualcomm’s server CPU and Mellanox’s Ethernet and InfiniBand interconnect;

Chandrasekher said the release of Qualcomm’s evaluation system is a milestone.

“As data centres evolve to support the exponential growth and innovation in data, connectivity and cloud services, Qualcomm Technologies is creating an ecosystem to meet the needs of these next-generation data centres with Qualcomm-based server technologies,” he said.

Customers were testing the Server Development Platform and porting their software. Qualcomm was incorporating their feedback into the product offering with the goal of ensuring system and software readiness by the time we are in full production.

 

IBM takes aim at exaflop computing

IBM client centre, Montpelier, FranceBig Blue said it is collaborating with French high performance agency GENCI to create computers that perform at least one exaflop.

An exaflop represents a billion billion calculations in a second.

IBM said that the fastest systems in the world now operate at between 10 and 33 petaflop and that’s only around one to three percent the speed of exascale computing.

The two will collaborate for 18 months and create complicated scientific applications at speeds of over 100 petaflops.

They will use technologies of over 140 members of the OpenPOWER foundation, all of which concentrate on using IBM’s POWER microprocessors.

Some examples of how this may pan out is connection Nvidia GPU accelerators to the POWER processors using Melanox 100Gb/s Inifiniband switches.

IBM will use its design centre in Mellanox to test and bring into existence much faster applications.

GENCI and IBM appear to be confident that they’ll move the supercomputing industry much closer to the exascale level.

Server market revenues grow

HP logoShipments of servers worldwide grew by eight percent in the second quarter of this year, while revenues rose by 7.2 percent.

Gartner said the year on year growth slowed however, largely due to currency exchange fluctuations in Western Europe and other geographies.

Servers using X86 processors rose by 8.3 percent in the quarter and revenues grew by nne percent. RISC/Itanium Unix servers fell by 18.7 percent for the period. Other CPUs, by which Gartner means mainframe CPUs, grew by 7.8 percent compared to the same quarter in 2014.

North America showed significant growth with a 14.8 percent increase in the quarter – its revenue growth grew by a similar amunt.

HP continues to be number one worldwide and has a 25.2 percent market share but Lenovo grew by 526.5 percent and that’s because it until it acquired IBM’s X86 server business it didn’t sell servers.

This change in the market hasn’t affected Dell’s position as number two in the market.

Intel buys into big data

BlueData logoThe investment wing of chip giant Intel said it has made an extra equity investment in BlueData and also announced a strategic plan to work with the software company.

BlueData makes infrastructure software for big data, using datacentre architecture using Intel Xeon server chips.

Intel has already struck deals with Cloudera for Apache Hadoop.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was made to say: “BlueData’s software delivers the simplicity, agility and efficiency of big data as a service in an on premises model.”

What this means is that BluData will optimise and develop big data infrastructure based on Intel Xeon chips.

The two firms will work on selling stuff together in coordinated product, channel and sales programmes.

Intel did not say specifically how much money it has plunged into BlueData but did say it’s part of a $20 million funding round as part o a strategic investment. A senior VP from Intel, Doug Fisher, will take a seat on BlueData’s board of directors.