Friday, November 25, 2011

Intel Debuts Pentium 350 Chip for Low-End Servers

Intel PentiumIntel, the most widely renowned and largest computer chip manufacturer on the planet, has just introduced a brand new, low-power Pentium 350 processor which is specifically aimed at low-end servers. The company had talked previously about its intentions to move into the low-end server market by producing "server versions" of the Atom processor which would support technologies like ECC memory.

However, Intel has taken that idea and done something that simply has most tech industry professionals scratching their heads. Intel has gone ahead and jumped right into the market, though with a Pentium branded processor instead of an Atom. The processor the company has decided to use? The dual-core 1.2GHz Pentium 350.

Even though the Pentium brand from Intel is extremely well known, the company has relegated it to cut down processors, effectively taking the place of the company's Celeron processors. Regardless, the Pentium 350 supports Hyperthreading and, most importantly, has a thermal design power (TDP) of only 15W.

What makes the Intel Pentium 350 processor a server-oriented chip is the complete lack of an on-chip GPU and support for ECC memory with the memory controller supporting two channels. In addition to that, there is support for Intel's Vpro virtualization technology, presumably meaning that the Pentium 350 chip was designed for very specific and traditional workloads.

The Xeon range of processors from Intel currently dominates the commodity server market, though the company needs to start producing lower power chips to compete with ARM-based servers in the future. It was expected that Chipzilla would serve the low-end server market with an Atom processor, but for now the 15W Pentium chip will have to take its place until 22nm Atom chips begin coming off of Intel's production lines sometime next year.

Source: The Inquirer - Intel outs 15W Pentium 350 chip for servers

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

New SQL Server Licensing from Microsoft

Microsoft SQL Server 2012It seems that most people, on the internet at least, have come to accept some new changes to Microsoft's SQL Server 2012 licensing model which is a clear contrast to the anarchy that ensued over changes to VMware's vSphere 5.0 back in July. In that case complaints forced VMware to modify its pricing. Microsoft debuted SQL Server 2012 earlier in the month as the relational database management system upgraded from SQL 2008. However, it is still going to take some effort by customers to figure out what these new changes mean for them, as well as for their IT budgets.

On the other hand, Microsoft is attempting to make it as easy as possible with an SQL Server 2012 Licensing Datasheet. Microsoft explains, in a six-page PDF, the different licensing options, differences among the different editions and how to transition from SQL 2008 to SQL 2012 licenses. However, it is still recommended that users consult with a Microsoft sales representative, preferably one that is the most familiar with their account.

Last month Microsoft and HP jointly announced the development of HP Alliance which will be able to run SQL 2012. VMware landed in some hot water with more than a few customers when it introduced a new licensing policy with vSphere 5.0, specifically when the company switched from a hardware-based licensing model per physical server to a "vRAM metric", where the company billed the amount of virtual RAM per physical server.

A plethora of blogs and reports noted complaints about the limitation on the number of vRAMs per license and, after only three weeks of customer disapproval, VMware relented and increased the limits per license of vRAM. It is no surprise that the backlash of that business venture is on the minds of the people at Microsoft who are responsible for SQL 2012. Some of the highlights of the new release include a new license category called Business Intelligence (BI) Edition, which fits between the existing Standard Edition (SE) and the Enterprise Edition (EE).

The BI Edition is fine-tuned to manage databases that are tied to a business intelligence application, which just so happens to be a growing category of IT for companies that are looking to crunch petabytes of data in order to get a little insight into how to run their businesses. Each edition of SQL 2012 will offer two broad options, pricing based on computing power and pricing based on the total number of end users. This is known as the Client Access License (CAL). However, computing power in the Enterprise Edition will be based on the number of sockets in a server as opposed to the number of processors.

Pricing information is detailed in the datasheet that notes that in EE a license is $6,874 per core for mission-critical apps. The BI edition is $3,952 per server plus an additional $209 per CAL. The SE edition is sold on a per-server ($898) or per-core ($1,793) basis with the addition of the same $209 per CAL license. It's going to take some calculations on the customer's part to determine if it is financially better to go with a per-server or per-core plan. Regardless, SQL Server 2012 will be available sometime in the first quarter of 2012.

Source: Information Week - Microsoft Revamps SQL Server Licensing

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