I'm at IDF, a major geekfest for the people interested in the guts of today’s computing infrastructure, and will be immersing myself in the flow for a couple of days. Before going completely off the deep end, I wanted to call out the announcement of the new Xeon E5. While I’ve discussed it in more depth in an accompanying Quick Take just published on our main website, I wanted to add some additional comments on its implications for data center operations, particularly in the areas of capacity planning and long-term capital budgeting.

For many years, each successive iteration of Intel’s and partners’ roadmaps has been quietly delivering a major benefit that seldom gets top billing – additional capacity within the same power and physical footprint, and the resulting ability for users from small enterprises to mega-scale service providers, to defer additional data spending capital expense.

In the case of the new E5 v3, the enabling technologies come together in a nearly perfect storm of improved performance coupled with actual lower system power consumption to make systems based on the new CPU particularly attractive to data center management-facing demands from their business stakeholders for systems that cannot, for a variety of reasons, send to the cloud. Based on a quick skim of the flood of third-party benchmarks beginning to appear, systems based on this new CPU and its accompanying platform elements, such as DDR 4 memory, are delivering performance of 25 – 40% over the previous generation E5 v2 along with lower system power consumption under load and lower idle power. Since servers typically have a three- or four-year lifecycle, especially if they are leased, the actual impacts on mainstream data centers will be even more profound, as a large number of Westmere-based (32 nm server technology from a couple of generations ago) servers will come off of lease over the next year, and the throughput per watt performance for the new E5 v3 is probably conservatively a factor of at least 2X compared to this older base.

The net impact is that a capacity planner faced with escalating workloads has been effectively handed a “Get Out of Jail”[i] card for their next 30 – 100% of increased throughput from their current facilities. Good news and good economics for all concerned.