Intel unveils upgraded Xeon server chips, to fend off rivals

Updated 2017-07-13 09:25:40 China Daily

Intel Corp unveiled a new generation of server chips on Wednesday-as the US tech heavyweight ramps up efforts to safeguard its market dominance and defend itself against competition from an increasing number of rivals.

The upgrade is also the latest move to tap into the Chinese market, where the country's Internet Plus initiative is fueling an explosive growth of internet data centers.

The Xeon Scalable Family processors, Intel said, can deliver 1.65 times higher performance, on average, over their predecessors, and can better drive corporate data centers and the computing clouds of the internet giants.

Intel, the undisputed leader in the personal computer chip market, also dominates in the server chip business. It controls about 96 percent of such chips, according to data from market research company International Data Corp.

But more players are entering the sector. Advanced Micro Devices Inc, the US semiconductor company, launched new server processors days ago.

Qualcomm Inc, whose chips are widely used in smartphones and tablets, is also making processors for servers.

Lisa M Davis, vice-president of the Data Center Group at Intel, said the upgraded Xeon processors can meet companies' increasingly diversified demands for server performances.

Xeon chips have four metal-themed families-Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze-which differ in terms of performance and features, rather than server size. They can target specified workloads of different enterprises, such as telecoms, cloud and AI tasks, Davis said.

In China, Intel's partners include Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, Inspur Group Co Ltd and Sugon Information Industry Co Ltd.

Roger Sheng, a senior chip analyst at research company Gartner Inc, said the latest Xeon chips represent a good improvement on the previous generation.

The launch timing seems a move designed to head off competition from AMD, which launched Epyc server processors, Sheng said.

Epyc server processors consist of four chips that each features up to 8 cores in a single package. Chinese search engine company Baidu Inc said it will use Epyc chips in its data centers.

According to International Data Corp, China consumed about 3.7 million units of server chips in 2015, and the figure is expected hit 8.6 million units by 2020.

Qualcomm plans to start shipping China-customized server chips in 2018, through Guizhou Huaxintong Semiconductor Technology Co, its joint venture with the Guizhou provincial government.

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