Data Disruption and IT Modernization at Microsoft Ignite

On August 8, 2018 at the Data-Centric Innovation Summit, Intel leader Navin Shenoy announced a new era of data center technology. This announcement underscored a global expansion in data that surpassed many predictions. It’s now clear that, regardless of industry, the ability to manage and the urgency to use data effectively defines the growth potential and competitive advantage of most organizations. This week at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, we shared additional news on how Intel® technology will move, store, and process data faster and more efficiently than ever before to achieve better business outcomes.

Intel and Microsoft are long-time partners in data center technology innovation. From the introduction of Windows* NT and Intel® Xeon® processors over 20-years ago, we actively collaborate and, together, advance the state of the art. Our work together is designed to provide the best customer experiences, via tools to simplify deployment, workload optimizations, and enhancing performance per transaction at the speed of Moore’s Law. At Ignite, we will present the further outcomes of our collaboration in four key areas: IT modernization, new Azure* cloud services, Intel® OptaneTM DC persistent memory and SSDs, and Intel® Select Solutions.

IT Modernization: Out with the Old, In with the Better

Microsoft support for Windows Server* 2008 and SQL Server* 2008 is winding down, and many organizations are evaluating their plans for these aging systems—install new software with existing platform capabilities, or upgrade to new, modernized infrastructures. Intel’s work with Microsoft to develop a modernized infrastructure roadmap provides Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 customers an upgrade path to new features, such as hardware-enhanced security and higher-performance virtualization, NVMe storage, advanced networking, AI capabilities, and our upcoming persistent memory technology.

We are excited to continue building upon our foundational work with Windows Hyper-V* to significantly improve performance, security, and latency. Investing in modernized infrastructure as you phase out Windows Server and SQL 2008 can improve performance up to 4X1, increase opportunities for data center consolidation for 60% lower TCO2, and harden platform security. The impending end-of-extending support is an urgent call for businesses for IT modernization preparedness and overcome the sprawl of legacy applications and systems for current data-centric realities.

In addition, the memory-storage hierarchy is on the verge of a complete modernization with the introduction of Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory, and the powerhouses of the software industry are moving to support it. At the show, Microsoft confirmed optimizations for Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory in Windows* Server 2019 and Microsoft SQL Server* vNext, and stated our companies are collaborating on support for currently shipping versions of SQL Server. This will create a sound foundation for this amazing memory technology among Microsoft users.

And speaking of new and improved, we are proud to announce a new record for Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Storage Spaces Direct performance of 13.4 million IOPS, more than doubling the record set in 2016. The previous record was shattered compliments of our next-generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor (code name Cascade Lake) with  1.5 terabytes of Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory, which provided unprecedented performance in the caching tier, and Intel® 3D NAND NVMe SSDs in the volume storage tier.3 Customers investing in hyper-converged infrastructure or software-defined storage should take note of the impact of persistent memory will contribute to the Intel® Xeon® Scalable platforms for these workloads.

Intel® Technology Enables Advanced Azure Cloud Services

Azure operates in a highly-competitive market, and they are always on the look-out for technology on which they can build innovative, differentiated services. Working together, we’ve enabled a range of customized service offerings that create new value for Azure customers. Azure Confidential Computing*, which features Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX) technology, creates hardware-protected processing enclaves to help secure the customers’ most sensitive data while it is in-use; and the public preview of the Azure DC series enabled by Intel® SGX technology to run SGX-enabled applications in the cloud to protect the confidentiality and integrity of your code and data.

Broadening the IaaS portfolio, Azure announced the upcoming Azure HC instances featuring the latest-generation Intel® Xeon® Platinum processors will be coming soon, designed for customers that demand the highest performance for HPC and AI inference workloads. And in Azure Machine Learning, Intel® FPGAs are used to accelerate AI deep learning inference performance to real-time levels. Microsoft is tackling the “massive-data-transfer” problem with Azure Data Box*, a family of data transfer solutions. The newly announced Azure Data Box Edge, featuring Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and Intel® FPGAs, offers AI-enabled processing of raw customer data prior to transporting into the Azure cloud. Intel data center technologies are featured prominently throughout the Azure portfolio.

Accelerate Deployment with Intel® Select Solutions

Intel® Select Solutions are tested, verified hardware and software configurations optimized for specific workloads and delivered by the industry’s leading OEMs. They can help IT confidently accelerate deployment of today’s most challenging or demanding workloads, including software from Microsoft. I’m excited to report that we will refresh the Intel® Select Solution for Windows Server Software Defined Storage to include Windows Server 2019, as well as support for Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory.  Watch for additional updates to the Intel® Select Solutions line-up as we incorporate the latest SQL Server versions supporting persistent memory and our next-generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, code-named Cascade Lake, in 1H’19. Please join us at the Intel booth to demo the next-generation verified capabilities of Intel® Select Solutions.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at Microsoft Ignite! To learn more about strategies and technologies to modernize your infrastructure, visit intel.com/beready.


  1. Per node 4X higher integer throughput performance: estimate based on SPECrate*2017_int_base on Intel internal platforms as of June 2018: 1x node, 2x Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2690, 128GB total memory, 16 slots / 8 GB/ 1600MT/s DDR3 RDIMM, Benchmark: SPEC CPU2017 V1.2, Compiler: Intel® Compiler IC17 update 2, Optimized libraries / versions: IC18.0_20170901, Other Software: MicroQuill SMART HEAP. uCode: 713, OS: Red Hat Enterprise Linux* 7.4, Kernel: 3.10.0-693.11.6.el7.x86_64 x86_64, Score 65.5 vs. 1x Node, 2x Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8180 Processor, 384GB total memory, 12 slots / 32 GB / 2666 MT/s DDR4, Benchmark software: SPEC CPU® 2017, Compiler: Intel® Compiler IC18 OEM, Optimized libraries: Intel®AVX-512, ucode:0x043, Red Hat Enterprise Linux* 7.4, 3.10.0-693.11.6.el7.x86_64, Score: 281. Cost reduction scenarios described are intended as examples of how a given Intel- based product, in the specified circumstances and configurations, may affect future costs and provide cost savings.  Circumstances will vary. Intel does not guarantee any costs or cost reduction.
  2. The benchmark results may need to be revised as additional testing is conducted. The results depend on the specific platform configurations and workloads utilized in the testing, and may not be applicable to any particular user's components, computer system or workloads. The results are not necessarily representative of other benchmarks and other benchmark results may show greater or lesser impact from mitigations. Performance tests, such as SYSmark and MobileMark, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations and functions. Any change to any of those factors may cause the results to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchases, including the performance of that product when combined with other products. For more complete information visit www.intel.com/benchmarks.  Configuration details: Up to 60% TCO savings with Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor compared to 5-year old system.  Example based on estimates as of June 2018 of equivalent rack performance over 4-year operation on integer throughput workload (estimate based on SPECrate*2017_int_base on Intel internal platforms) running VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus on Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server and comparing 20 installed 2-socket servers with Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2690 (formerly “Sandy Bridge-EP”) at a total cost of $737,460 [Per server cost $36.8K: acquisition=12,5K, infrastructure and utility=4.5K, os & software=10.2K, maintenance=9.7K ] vs. 5 new Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8180 (Skylake) at a total cost of $294,540 [Per server cost $58.9K: acquisition=12,5K, infrastructure and utility=10.1K, os & software=10.1K, maintenance=9.7K]. Assumptions based on https://xeonprocessoradvisor.intel.com, assumptions as of June 6, 2018.
  3. Record IOPS information. Benchmark: VM Fleet. IOPS Record measurement: 13.4M IOPS. 312 VMs (26 per node). 12 node cluster.  Node detail: 2x 28C Future Xeon Scalable Processors (Cascade Lake), 384GB DRAM (12x32GB), 1.5TB of Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory, 4x 8TB Intel Cliffdale P4510 NVMe.  2016 record ~5M IOPS Link