Migrating Mission-Critical Environments to Intel Architecture

Prior to 1998, Intel used RISC systems in several of our mission-critical environments.  As part of a multiyear strategy, Intel IT began migrating Intel’s most mission-critical computing environments from proprietary systems to Intel® architecture. These environments included silicon design, manufacturing, and global enterprise resource planning (ERP).  Intel’s business results depend on these environments and so we approached the migrations with careful planning.

We ultimately chose Intel® Itanium® processor based solutions for 24x7 reliability, large scale-up database and HP-UX based application stacks.  Intel® Xeon® processor based solutions were chosen for highly reliable, scale out applications running on industry standard OS-based application stacks.

Migrating our infrastructure from expensive proprietary architectures to Intel architecture solutions was a strategy we used within the Intel IT Data Center environment to improve infrastructure efficiency, solution performance and business agility.  The migration from RISC to IA has allowed us to create business value by reducing total cost of ownership, improve performance while maintaining the reliability, availability and scalability requirements (RAS) for these environments.  Some key milestones during our migration journey include:

  • All new RISC investment ended in 2004
  • Intel IT successfully implemented a decentralized ERP environment that is based on Intel Xeon  processor based servers and supports more than 10,000 active users, after moving off a previously scale-up RISC based infrastructure
  • Intel’s Manufacturing Execution Systems, which track all material, routes and production steps for our manufacturing environments, were migrated from RISC (VAX/Alpha) to Xeon (applications servers) and Itanium (database servers)
  • Our Yield Analysis systems in Fab/Sort was migrated to Itanium-based servers running HPUX
  • Factory Scheduling has been moved from a scale-up SPARC based solution to a scale-out to Xeon-based solution running an industry standard OS.
    Manufacturing Assembly Test is currently being moved from Alpha to a combined solution architecture of Xeon (application stack) and Itanium (database)

As a result of our meticulous planning process and best practices we developed along the way, the  migrations turned out to be less  difficult—and the benefits greater—than we originally anticipated. Some of the more significant benefits of RISC Migration to Intel’s business can be summarized as follows:

  • Saved $1.4B in capital spending from 1998-2004
  • Data Center density improved 2X to 5X and overall eliminated 20,000 sq ft of data center footprint
  • Reduced server and solution acquisition costs in both hardware and software
  • 2X average performance improvement between IA and RISC

Check out this Mission-Critical paper that documents and shares Intel IT's RISC migration best practices and how we ultimately achieved significant business value with little or no interruption to our core business results.