This new crop of servers based on the Xeon 7500 processor are seriously game changing. Take everything that was good about the Xeon 5500 ( Nehalem ) processor last year and turn up the dial a few clicks. More cores, More Interconnects, More memory, More Performance, More of everything.
The result is a server that can go head to head with anything out there. I was chastised for writing a pointed blog last year that said the future of the Sparcâ„˘ and Power processors were â€śchallengedâ€ť.
Fast forward and today a Xeon platform can match or exceed the performance of virtually any other enterprise platform. So, for enterprise applications today, performance is not the issue. Selection of a platform is a function of:
Capital Cost of the platform
Support Cost of the platform
Operating System support
For capital cost, Xeon systems are typically much higher performance/dollar than Power or Sparc platforms. Sometimes by a huge margin.
Support Cost: The reality is virtually every data center has expertise in support Windows or Linux on Xeon servers. They may also have some people with expertise in other operating systems, but the cost to support incremental Xeon servers is relatively low, and no new training is required.
OS support can be an issue if the customer is dependent on lots of custom code that cannot be recompiled. For many commercial applications and databases Xeon is often the primary supported platform, not a later port.
Platform reliability is a big concern for all customers but in truth much of this is a measure of software reliability. Xeon platforms today are amazingly solid. Windows and Linux have established themselves as real enterprise operating systems. Solaris runs faster on Xeon than any other hardware. Virtualization provides added levels of system reliability, providing high availability and live fail over. Lastly, at the â€śprocessor hardnessâ€ť level, Intel has added over 20 processor reliability features to the Xeon 7500 platform, making it truly a mission critical processor.
Absolutely I am biased toward Intel Xeon platforms, but when I add up the TCO/ROI numbers, Xeon servers just seem like a much better value for businesses that are driving for efficiency.