January 15, 2014, 8:55 PM — Intel today launched a program with 16 different cloud services providers worldwide to help customers see exactly what kind of processing power they are getting. While the Intel Cloud Technology program sounds self-serving, it does provide potential customers some needed information.
The Cloud Technology program is specifically for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers who just offer bare metal, as opposed to a Microsoft Azure or Amazon Red Shift, where the OS layer is already provided for you.
The Intel Cloud Technology program builds on the alliance announced last September between Amazon Web Services and Intel to communicate to customers the specifications, performance, and other benefits of the Intel technology used in AWS instances.
A bare metal customer tends to be more concerned about performance, which is why they go the bare metal route in the first place. They don't want to run their app in a virtualized environment, where they are sharing CPU time with who knows how many other apps. They want CPU and memory all to themselves.
The problem is they don't know what they are getting in terms of that metal. Is it a Xeon E3, which is not much more powerful than a Core i7 desktop processor, or is it the top of the line Xeon E7? The Cloud Technology program will give customers a peek at the racks to see what they are actually going to get for hardware.
Some providers already do this. For example, Softlayer, the IaaS provider snapped up by IBM last year, has a pricing page where you can choose by single, dual and quad core. Not every cloud provider discloses their services as detailed as Softlayer does, and even if they do, there's other minutiae.
For example, cloud providers can include the CPU model and information about enabled features like AVX, AES-NI, TXT and so on. They can also share information about other Intel technologies significantly impacting performance like networking, storage (Intel SSDs) and software.
Only four of the 16 companies in the joint announcement are in the U.S., the rest are global. The U.S. participating companies are Virtustream, Rackspace, Savvis and Expedient. The non-US companies are Canopy (U.K.), CloudWatt* (France), KIO Networks (Mexico), KT (Korea), Locaweb (Brazil), NxtGen (India), Online.net (France, OVH (France), Selectel (Russia), Telefonica (Brazil), and UOLDIVEO/ UOL Host (Brazil).
It's one more nail in the coffin of the once formidable AMD Opteron. By being first to market with a 64-bit server processor, AMD jumped out to a nice lead and actually had about 20% market share at one point. Then it stumbled badly with the Barcelona design and Intel got its act together.
Since then it has been a steady decline, with Opteron now in the low single digits, according to Mercury Research. And given how little talk there is of Opteron in AMD's roadmap, it doesn't look like the company is plotting a comeback any time soon.