Faced with the rising cost of infrastructure, dramatic increases in network traffic, and shrinking margins, communications service providers are looking to adopt cloud technologies and virtualize network functions. This transition will enable them to reduce costs by using virtual machines (VMs) and open software solution running on standard servers instead of expensive dedicated network appliances.
Recognizing this trend, members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance are using the latest advances in the recently launched Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 v3 family to provide powerful server solutions for the telecom industry. These servers provide optimized cloud environments for provider applications requiring high compute and packet throughput. They are ideal for a range of virtual and non-virtualized network functions such as network monitoring, traffic analytics, network security, and service load balancing.
A previous post provided three examples of AdvancedTCA* (ATCA*) blades available from members of the Alliance that used this new processor family. This post provides a brief overview of what makes platforms using these processors such a hot commodity for accelerating communications infrastructure and provides more examples of Alliance server solutions.
The New Paradigm
Cloud-based computing provides telecom operators with a tantalizing opportunity to improve operational flexibility, scalability, and cost efficiency, as well as add new revenue-generating cloud services. To successfully take advantage of this opportunity, operators must combine data center and telecom infrastructure capabilities by adopting a layered, virtualized cloud approach. This is a major shift for an industry that traditionally deploys dedicated equipment for each network function. Fortunately, new approaches to telecom cloud computing running on the latest Intel® processors simplify the transition and reduce the cost and complexity, as well as enable maintaining carrier grade reliability and security.
Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2600 v3 Family
This new processor family based on Intel’s Haswell microarchitecture provides a major step up in performance for greater virtualization density and networking performance. The processors deliver up to 2.2x the performance over the previous generation. Improvements include more cores, greater cache, and a number of hardware-based enhancements including Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX) 2.02 and Intel® Quick Path Interconnect (QPI).
Other advanced features include:
- New DDR4 support that delivers up to 3x the memory bandwidth using as little as half the power
- Advanced cache monitoring and allocation that helps accelerate network performance and reduce latency
- Intel® Data Protection Technology with Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) that accelerates data encryption and decryption up to 2X faster than the previous generation
- An increase in virtualization density of up to 1.6X compared to the previous generation for more workloads on fewer servers
Three New Telecom Server Solutions
The new core counts, larger caches, and increased virtualization capabilities enable significant performance and energy efficiency improvements for cloud computing platforms. These improvements are already being demonstrated in many world record benchmark performances by servers designed for the telecom cloud and other markets by Alliance members and other manufacturers.
Dell PowerEdge* R730xd Rack Server
This rack server from Dell OEM, a Premier member of the Alliance, is offered with a full range of embedded and standard SKUs of the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 family to provide a versatile solution. The PowerEdge R730xd demonstrated a 37 percent improvement over a similar Dell server using the previous generation processor (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Intel generational performance on SAP Sales and Distribution (2-Tier) using Linux* operating system.
For the telecom cloud, the PowerEdge R730xd can be configured to:
- Support a large number of Microsoft Exchange mailboxes on a single system and deliver up to a 50 percent increase in mailbox size over the previous generation server
- Operate as a high-end Microsoft SharePoint server
- Provide software-defined storage (SDS) based on products such as Microsoft Storage Spaces, Ceph for OpenStack, and VMware Virtual SAN
For the storage, the PowerEdge R730xd could be configured with 24 small-form-factor drives in the front, plus two in the rear for more than 100TB of storage using 4TB drives. Add up to four Express Flash NVMe PCIe SSDs to satisfy the highest I/O demands.
Dell also offers industry-leading enhancements through its OpenManage systems management portfolio to make systems management easier. This portfolio includes a management console and the Integrated Dell Remote Access Control 8 (iDRAC8) with Lifecycle Controller embedded in every Dell PowerEdge server. iDRAC provides functionality that helps IT administrators deploy, update, monitor, and maintain Dell servers with no need for any additional software to be installed. A new feature is a Near Field Communication (NFC)-equipped front panel that enables administrators to press a button on the panel, touch the panel with an Android* smartphone with the Dell OpenManage Mobile app, and instantly see a wealth of information about the server without opening the lid.
HP ProLiant BL460c Gen9 Server Blade
Servers from HP, an Associate member of the Alliance, racked up a number of world record performances for virtualization performance using the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 family. An HP Proliant DL380 Gen 9 set a world record on the VMmark 2.5 with Server + Storage Power. An HP Proliant DL360 Gen 9 delivered the world’s most energy-efficient virtualization performance on SPECvirt*_sc2013_PPW, providing a 56 percent improvement (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Intel generational performance on SPECvirt_sc2013_PPW, a performance per watt metric that represents the peak performance divided by the average power of the system under test, including storage.
In server blades, a particularly interesting dual-socket, cloud-ready converged infrastructure solution from HP is the ProLiant BL460c Gen9. Engineered with enhanced DDR4 memory and storage capacities, it delivers an up to 70 percent performance increase with the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 family.
Designed for a wide range of configuration and deployment options, the HP ProLiant BL460c Server Blade provides the flexibility to optimize core telecom applications with right-sized storage for the right workload for a lower TCO. Flexible storage controller options include a 12 Gb/s SAS controller, 20 Gb FlexibleLOM NICs, and USB 3.0 on the internal connector. The optional HP Smart Array P244br storage controller with 1 GB Flash-Write Back Cache (FWBC) DDR3 at 1866 MHz improves storage performance for particularly demanding workloads.
For manageability, HP OneView provides the Power of One – a single comprehensive view of the data center, managing hardware, software, firmware, and drivers. HP Integrated Lights-out (iLO) software features server lifecycle management advancements including iLO Federation, which remotely manages groups of servers at scale with built-in rapid discovery of all iLOs, group configurations, group health status, and ability to determine iLO licenses.
For providers looking to take the risk out of NFV implementation, HP is working with Wind River to ensure the interoperability of systems from different providers through the Wind River Titanium Cloud. You can find out more in this post from my colleague, Kenton Williston.
Fujitsu PRIMERGY CX400 M1 Scale-Out Server
This server “scale-out” system from Fujitsu, an Associate member of the Alliance, enables packaging up to four independent dual-socket server nodes and up to 24 local storage drives into a consolidated 2U rack enclosure. It also delivers world record performance on general computing. Equipped with the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 family, it acheived a new world-class record in energy efficiency for multi-node servers on the SPECpower_ssj2008 benchmark, surpassing the best result by 11.4 percent (November 17, 2014).
The system acts as a replicable Smart Scale-Out building block with conformity to conventional 19” rack infrastructure, providing a new compact server node density – up to 50 percent less rack space compared to equivalent standard rack servers – to realize large scale-out solutions telecom cloud computing at lower overall power and costs. Hot-plug for server nodes, power supplies, and disk drives enable enhanced availability and easy serviceability.
Fujitsu PRIMERGY BX2560 M1 Dual-Socket Server Blade
Available with a range of the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 family and DDR4 memory technology, the Fujitsu PRIMERGY BX2560 M1 server blade (Figure 3) is optimal for demanding telecom cloud workloads, such as mail and messaging services, collaboration, applications, and virtual environments. Its embedded dual-channel 10 Gbit/s universal converged network adapter with eight physical functions per channel, usable for Ethernet, iSCSI, FCoE and RDMA over Converged Ethernet, allows allocating the network throughput to match individual application needs. Two additional PCIe 3.0 I/O expansion slots support the use of the highest performing mezzanine cards now and into the future.
Figure 3. Fujitsu PRIMERGY BX2560 M1 Dual-Socket Server Blade provides plenty of performance for demanding telecom cloud workloads such as mail and messaging services, collaboration, applications, and virtual environments.
The blade comes with the FUJITSU Software ServerView® Suite, a combination of mostly free-of-charge server management modules which deliver optimized deployment, permanent status monitoring and extensive control. New management functions and updates include: ServerView Embedded Lifecycle Management, Agentless Management with ServerView Agentless Service, and ServerView System Monitor.
Enabling the Telecom Cloud
Rack servers and server blades that make the most of the two-socket world record performances of the new Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 family offer the best combination of performance, power-efficiency, virtualization, built-in capabilities, and cost-effectiveness for a wide range of communications workloads. How many will you run on yours today?
Contact featured members:
Solutions in this blog:
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance
Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine