Intel unveils new blade server standard

update Draft design specifications is expected to help drive and develop the blade server segment for small and midsize businesses, says chipmaker.
Written by Lynn Tan @ Redhat, Contributor

update Intel has teamed up with the Server System Infrastructure (SSI) Forum group to release a new set of design specifications for blade server platforms.

Dubbed the Modular Server Specifications, it outlines details on designing the "compute blade, mezzanine card--also known as the I/O card--[and] system management", Patrick Buddenbaum, blades marketing director of Intel's digital enterprise group, told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview.

The new set of design specifications--available today as draft specifications--will help to simplify and lower the cost of research and development (R&D) of blade server products, built specifically for the small and midsize business (SMB) space, Buddenbaum explained. He added that version 1.0 of the specifications will be finalized in six months' time.

Spearheaded by Intel, the SSI is a global consortium aims to standardize interfaces between components typically used in servers, including boards, chassis and power suppliers. The group's membership consists of server-focused OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and developers, consisting of Intel and other industry partners.

The two organizations decided to first target small and midsize companies, before expanding into "other adjacent segments", he said.

"When we look at our broad channel, we see the opportunity in the SMB space for blades to play a larger role than they are today," Buddenbaum said. "The 40-plus vendors [in SSI] supporting us have a strong foothold in this marketplace."

He noted that the new specifications can be used in "a variety of applications and market segments", such as personal clusters, technical computing clusters and network data centers.

"One of the things we tried to do with the specifications was to make them very open in terms of the different class of systems that can be built [based on the specs]," he said. "We did not try to dictate what the end--or OEM--systems should look like, [and] we see this as enabling the building blocks that the OEMs can then use to build a complete system for the markets they target."

However, Buddenbaum said, while the new specifications are based on similar technologies as the current platform--used by major players such as HP and IBM--some design tradeoffs can be expected as they were developed with SMBs in mind.

Compared to large enterprises, he noted, SMBs are very focused on cost and "appreciate ease-of-use around manageability", while server density--the amount of computing power available--is not considered as important. In addition, they do not need I/O capabilities that are as robust as what large enterprises typically require.

"Intel is leading this effort to bring the benefits of open standards to [the blade platform], the fastest-growing segment in the server market," said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's server platforms group, said in a statement. "Our goal is to drive cost-effective, flexible, industry standards-based platforms into the server marketplace."

Buddenbaum added that the new standard has garnered support from over 40 vendors, including Compusys, Dawning, Lenovo as well as Samsung.

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