Intel has added new chips to the Xeon E3-1500 v5 family of server processors, introducing capabilities designed specifically to accelerate video and multimedia workloads for service providers, what the chipmaker dubs the 'visual cloud'.
Intel announced the latest additions at the Computex show in Taiwan, saying that new features include on-chip embedded DRAM, Iris Pro graphics and specialised accelerator hardware such as the Quick Sync video technology for video transcoding.
The existing Xeon E3-1500 line was unveiled last year as mobile-focused chips to power workstation-class laptops.
The new chips are designed to address the burgeoning volume of online video-related traffic thanks to video streaming services and social networks supporting video content. In particular, the rising popularity of high resolution 4K video content is placing a strain on existing infrastructure, according to Intel.
Workloads making up the so-called visual cloud include webcasts, video-conferencing, digital TV broadcasts, cloud gaming, video transcoding and even remote workstation screen delivery, the latter involving hosted workstations accessed remotely using a PC or other endpoint device.
Intel is tackling these workloads by introducing new versions of the Xeon E3-1500 v5 optimised specifically for video delivery, and based on the Skylake technology introduced into consumer platforms last year.
These feature on-chip memory in the shape of 128MB of embedded DRAM, and can access twice the memory of previous generations of Xeon E3 chips at 64GB.
Intel has also added updated graphics capabilities to Iris Pro graphics P580, which features 50 per cent more execution units than in previous generations of Xeon E3, upping the number from 48 to 72. The graphics can also share access to the on-chip embedded DRAM with the CPU cores enabling it to serve as an extra level of cache, according to Intel.
Another key capability is hardware-enhanced High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), thanks to Intel Quick Sync Video. This is a hardware accelerator that provides the Xeon E3-1500 v5 with real-time HEVC transcoding capability for the first time in an Intel processor, the firm said.
As announced, the Xeon E3-1500 v5 is divided into a performance-optimised group and a reliability-optimised group, the latter intended for service providers with long-term deployment requirements of up to seven years.
All of these are quad-core chips, and the E3-1585 v5 comes out top with a 3.5GHz clock speed and 65W TDP rating. The performance-optimised chips comprise the E3-1585L v5, a 45W part clocked at 3GHz, and the E3-1565L v5 at 35W and 2.5GHz.
The reliability-optimised chips are the E3-1578L v5 at 45W and 2GHz, while the E3-1558L v5 is also a 45W part but clocked at 1.9GHz and with less capable graphics.
Intel said that the latest release of Citrix's XenDesktop platform, showcased at the firm's Synergy event last week, is the first platform to include support for Intel's Graphics Virtualisation Technology.
This enables up to seven virtual desktops or workstations to share the graphics acceleration capabilities of the new Xeon chips, giving a boost to virtual desktop services.
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