Intel kicks off new enterprise technologies

IDF: Developments such as 'Active Management Technology' and 'I/O Acceleration Technology' are key parts of Intel's roadmap for the enterprise space
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

Speaking at briefings either side of his major keynote speech on Tuesday, Pat Gelsinger, senior vice-president of Intel's new Digital Enterprise Group, revealed some details of the company’s enterprise platform strategy.

Pulling together work in progress from a number of Intel divisions, he singled out I/O Acceleration Technology (I/OAT) and Active Management Technology (AMT) as key components to be included in chips and platforms over the next two years.

I/OAT is a reworking of server network components from interface card through to operating system. Currently specified for Gigabit Ethernet and TCP/IP, Intel claims it increases throughput for most sorts of network traffic while reducing load on system components. "We looked at TOEs [TCP/IP Offload Engines -- dedicated chips to accelerate networks], and found they did no good in most cases", said Gelsinger. "I/OAT increases data exchange by at least 30 percent for many different kinds of server traffic". Microsoft has said that it will provide native support for I/OAT in future Windows Server releases, including Longhorn.

I/OAT would grow over time, Gelsinger said. "I/OAT is a roadmap, and will include more technologies in the future. We’re not revealing which ones," he said, "but people can probably make good guesses." Intel is a leading light in 10 Gbps Ethernet and is keen on iSCSI for storage. "There may be an opportunity at 10Gbps for convergence," Gelsinger said. "but software and scalability are all issues for converged fabrics".

AMT is part of Intel's thrust towards 'embedded IT', adding intelligence and control features to platforms that run independently of the main system. This "out of band" approach lets management systems inspect and control computers regardless of their state of health, operating system or even whether they’re turned on, said Gelsinger. "AMT is an example of our new platform-based approach", he said. "The technologies behind it come from three different Intel divisions, but now its being driven forward by just one."

Although the details of AMT are still under wraps, the standards will be available for anyone to use and develop software for said Abhi Talwalkar, vice-president of the Digital Enterprise Group. "We’ve started disclosing the specification for it to our partners under NDA today. These interfaces will be easily accessible so operating system vendors and ISVs will be able to deliver on it. Our API is consistent with standards such as SMASH being developed by the Desktop Management Task Force. Most of these protocols are being driven by DMTF. We don’t think of our AMT strategy as open source or not. It will be available on both."

Intel also announced that its previously-disclosed "Vanderpool" virtualisation technology would now officially be known as Intel Virtualization Technology (VT). I/OAT, AMT and VT will start to become available in new chips and chipsets towards the end of 2005, with production quantities expected in 2006.

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