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By | Jack Clark 19th February 2014 12:18

Server vendors lovingly dress Intel's latest Xeon in memory jewels

The chip is the star, but each server comes with some baubles

Intel has released its top-end Xeon processor, the Xeon E7 v2 series, and with it the world's server makers have hurried a set of gleaming chassis out the door.

As with any server launch, the processor here is the star – and with the Xeon E7 v2 going up to 15 cores and allowing access to up to 6TB of memory, it's set to be a red carpet star for Intel's profit-fuelling data center division – but Dell, HP, and IBM have all made advancements as well.

Specifically, each of these three companies has worked harder on unifying memory and compute in their server platforms to bring in faster I/O and expand the amount of data that can be kept hot and cheek-by-jowl with the processor.

First up is Dell with its R920 Poweredge, which sees the company cram in support for up to eight NVMe PCI SSDs – a first for Dell – plus 16 1.2TB HDDs.

NVMe is an interface standard that defines an interface, command set, and featureset for PCIe SSDs.

Next up is HP with its new Xeon v2-based ProLiant Gen8 servers. One way HP is hoping to push its memory boundary is to pack in 96 32GB DIMMS via eight 'memory cartridge' modules, and eventually scale this up to 64GB to let data center wranglers get their hands on a server with 6TB of memory.

It has also added in "smart sockets" – sockets that stop butterfingered admins bending the pins on a chip.

IBM, meanwhile, has equipped its System x servers with eXFlash since their launch in January. eXFlash is flash memory on a DDR3 module running on the memory bus, cutting access times.

In addition to this the server comes with a processor high availability feature which lets admins still access network and storage if a processor fails. However, IBM is selling its x86 business to Lenovo, so the support contracts for the servers are going to change, as will the pipeline for development.

In addition to the above pushes on memory all three server makers have drizzled their kit with their respective software management packages, giving them various features whose purpose is obscured by the black syrup of marketing. ®

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