Intel previews Jasper Forest processors

By Kevin Komiega

 -- Intel has pulled back the curtain on its latest generation of Xeon processors for communications and storage applications. The processors, codenamed "Jasper Forest," boast integrated PCI Express (PCIe) support and lower power consumption for dense storage system designs. The processors are due to ship in "early 2010," according to Intel officials.

The dual-processing design integrates two Jasper Forest processors with 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes per processor, and is paired with the Intel 3420 chipset controller hub.

The PCIe enhancements allow multiple systems to connect over a PCIe link, removing the need for an external PCIe switch.

Seth Bobroff, general manager for storage with Intel's Server Platforms Group, claims the integration of the I/O hub via PCIe saves power and real estate. Jasper Forest processors lower system power consumption by 27 watts when compared to the previous generation Xeon 5500 series processors. 

The processors also shoulder more of the storage workload. "Jasper Forest does more [storage] work in the main CPU complex, which allows for workload consolidation and more efficiency on the software side," explains Bobroff.

Specifically, the processors feature native RAID 5 and RAID 6 hardware acceleration, and Asynchronous DRAM Self-Refresh memory provides a backup solution to protect data in the event of a power failure.

Bobroff says the chip's integrated storage features and reduced power consumption create a platform that is "ideal for dense storage designs" such as systems with solid-state disk (SSD) drives.

"We have not integrated any specific SSD-enabling technology, but bringing this class of computing into storage combined with SSDs will enable a lot of innovation. There is a tremendous amount of performance available with [Jasper Forest processors]," he says.

Several of Intel's top storage OEM partners have begun sampling the Jasper Forest technology. Bobroff declined to name names, but he does expect OEM systems based on the Jasper Forest processors to be available to customers during the second half 2010.

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This article was originally published on September 18, 2009