The Intel (News - Alert) tick-tock model is upon us once again. The server industry will undergo another major shift in 2014. This year represents the tock cycle and the next big innovation in processor microarchitecture. The new Haswell microarchitecture featured in the 22 nm 4th generation Core Processor (News - Alert) family will have multiple die flavors to address low core count and high mHz as well as high core count and lower mHz for servers. Here are three important factors when considering the Haswell server transition.
First, the new microarchitecture will require a move from DDR3 memory to DDR4. The newer DRAM will reduce memory power demand and support higher data rates. The price for this new memory is typically higher at initial release and then falls as demand increases. But the current DRAM market conditions are not conducive to the typical price curves. If the pricing of the DDR4 does not drop back to DDR3 levels, then we will see higher overall server prices well into the full production phase.
Secondly, the new processor family implements several new instructions designed to improve performance in cryptographic processing and enhanced encryption. Software developers will need to update or recompile their code to take advantage of these new instructions.
Finally, the new architecture will provide native support for non-volatile dual in-line memory modules. This support will improve data retention and security as well as overall application performance. Designers, however, will need to be sure to allocate enough channels since the NVDIMM slot can only be used as an NVDIMM.
So what's the final score? Software developers and OEMs can gain a competitive advantage by transitioning to Haswell Servers in 2014, but timing is critical to maximize the return while keeping the risk and cost parameters low. If the new instruction sets and increased memory performance gives your application a competitive advantage, then move quickly and seize the day.
Jeff Hudgins (News - Alert) is vice president of marketing at Unicom Engineering (www.unicomengineering.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi