When Will Storage Get Some Respect?
By Lee Johns, VP Product Management - Intel launched their latest processors March, 6 2012 with the press release headline stated, “New Intel Server technology - Powering the Cloud to Handle 15 Billion Connected Devices”. The new Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 product family has some impressive specs with 8 processor cores, 768GB of memory and a claim of up to an 80% performance increase and of course the usual cast of server companies (HP, Dell, IBM, Cisco) were there to participate in the party and announce new products. Of course there was much more detail on additional features including improvements to PCI Express 3.0 and you can easily read them in the Intel press release.
What interested me about the press release was one small paragraph buried about three quarters of the way down.
“The high-performance processing power along with Intel® Integrated I/O and advanced storage features such as PCIe* non-transparent bridging and asynchronous DRAM refresh, makes the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family also an ideal choice for storage and communications solutions.”
Today due to volume, servers are the core target for the next generation of Intel processors. Interestingly though the majority of storage solutions are now also based on the x86 architecture. This leaves me to wonder when the storage vendors will be key partners at a next generation Intel processor launch! Doesn’t storage also “Power the Cloud”? Doesn’t storage based on x86 drive billions of dollars of industry revenues?
Although Storage vendors are using x86 processors they are not yet driven by the x86 metronome. The market does not require storage systems to be first out of the door with a new processor to ensure profitability and that is just fine. Having to launch a system immediately with the processor indicates commoditization and storage is not commoditized.
It was surprising then to see Hitachi Data Systems as a part of the launch. Were they already committing to the new processors in their VSP Storage platforms? It took me a moment to realize that they were launching some new Intel® Xeon®-based servers.
I guess storage will have to wait a little while longer to get the respect it deserves.