There are some interesting, yet more quiet, trends beyond this summer's leading topics of PC-era shifts and mobile saturation questions, particularly the growing competition to meet enterprise server and storage demands. One of the offshoots of the growth in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trends as well as Big Data has been the need to provide more powerful and high-performance data access solutions in enterprise settings. This week's announcements by Intel certainly underscore what analysts are forecasting for steady demand growth.
Got Data? Need storage!
As discussed last week, the tug of war continues with HDDs and SSDs, but with new variables coming into play that offer opportunities for both storage solutions. Perhaps most importantly, the demand forecast for storage is solid because of the growth in data at both enterprise and personal computing levels.
While the enterprise PC-refresh cycle continues to be elusive (and perhaps no longer cyclical) with many reasons cited, from software to macro-economics, the enterprise storage demand is an area that continues to grow. Citi Research's most recent technology supply chain review for the second quarter of 2013 (2Q13) shows a 4% growth rate year-over-year (YoY) for enterprise storage for 2013 rising to 6% YoY for 2014 (US $29.1 billion). Enterprise servers also show a return to growth from 2012, returning to 4% YoY (US $8.6 million) by 2014, reaching 3% in 2013.
While these are not double-digit growth levels, importantly the return to growth after the 2012 lows is important. Analysts offer that the more conservative growth is due more to the related enterprise IT demand softness, and that looking forward, the need for increased data storage and solutions to handle growing data sets and cloud server access will fuel demand (cf. Citi Research, "IT Hardware 2Q13 Preview," 2 July 2013).
New data center solutions heat up
Underscoring the validity of the growing enterprise storage demand are recent announcements from important companies along the storage supply chain, among them Intel's strategic changes. The news from Intel most recently is the announcement Monday that they are "offering a low-power version of [their] powerful Xeon processor with built-in features including connectivity and memory," according to Reuters. The new, Broadwell-based processors will utilize the energy efficiency of the Atom series and provide enterprise server solutions with microserver solutions to meet budget and energy goals while providing expanded storage coupled with the demanded high performance capabilities.
Although Intel holds the market leadership position, Monday's announcement signals Intel's awareness of the growing competition from AMD and ARM-based solutions. More specifically, the rise in ARM-based system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for servers is at the frontlines of recent competitive movement in the industry, as noted by EETimes:
[Intel] started sampling in March its 22nm Avoton, a server SoC using the new Atom-based Silvermont core, and it has chips in wireless base stations in field trials.
In 2014 or later, Intel will roll out three classes of server chips using its 14nm technology now being tested in its fabs. Broadwell is Intel's next-generation Xeon and will include a related class of SoCs. Denverton is a set of Atom-based SoCs.
[…]Intel revealed that Avoton, a.k.a. the C2000, will include eight Silvermont-class 64-bit Atom cores. It also integrates four Gbit Ethernet controllers, four serial ATA 2.0 controllers, two SATA 1.0 controllers, four controllers supporting 16-lanes of PCI Express Gen 2, and support for DDR3 memory. A related SoC for storage systems called Rangely will include a crypto accelerator using Intel's Quick Assist technology.