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Talking about the evolution and development of data centers


Data centers are now the glue to maintain the structure of modern society, whether it's shopping with credit cards, sending messages to friends, or ordering pizza. In fact, what people do every day is supported by the data center.

But the data centers that are currently relied on are far removed from the technology of the past. Since the first step in digital computing in the 1950s, incalculable changes have taken place. Over the years, data center processing power and storage capacity have grown exponentially, and the infrastructure needed to support modern applications has become more complex.

These advances are driven by the growing demand of businesses and consumers. First, the birth of the Internet has led to an explosive growth in online service consumption, which requires a significant increase in the processing power and capacity that data centers must provide. Soon after, the demand for server processing power enabled third-party providers to host their users' servers in data center facilities, eliminating the initial cost and ongoing administrative costs of building their own internal data centers. Eventually, with the improvement of network technology and connectivity, this has been replaced by cloud computing technology, that is, the space rented by users is not the data center, but the server itself.

Cloud computing has been the main catalyst for data center transformation. Not only has its fundamentals changed in many operating models due to its rise, but it has also driven advances in technologies such as multi-tenant systems, fast storage and artificial intelligence applications.

One of the most fundamental changes in data center technology is the emergence of multi-core processors around 2000. By installing two or more core processors on a single chip, you can radically improve the overall performance of your data center hardware, allowing you to run the same workload with fewer servers.

Multi-core processors also bring huge advantages to virtualization, which has been the key to data center business growth. Because each core processor can run in parallel with other core processors, multicore processor systems can run a large number of virtual machines simultaneously with little performance degradation, greatly increasing the number of applications that can run simultaneously.

Containerization techniques have had similar effects. Each virtual machine can host multiple containers in it, and each container can host its own application. This allows the data center to multiply its application capacity. In addition to leading the evolution of multi-core processor technology, Intel has been a leader in developing virtualization and container technologies, working with engineering partners to make containers and virtual machines lighter, faster, and more flexible.

Data center devices are powerful, but they generate a lot of heat. Unfortunately, server processors are highly sensitive and must be kept below a certain temperature to ensure optimal performance. To maintain this state, data centers must rely on complex and expensive cooling systems to tightly control ambient temperatures, which are often the second largest power consumer in the data center.

Although cooling systems are still needed, Intel's advances in processor technology have made the server's core processor more thermally efficient, generating less heat and requiring less cooling power. Most importantly, the company introduced sensors in its server chips in 2011, enabling data center managers to measure temperature and airflow in the data center. This allows them to better identify hot spots and cold spots and model the placement of new racks and equipment based on temperature.

In addition to preventing costly downtime, it increases the overall thermal efficiency of the data center, extends the life of the server itself, and reduces the overall cooling required, saving data center managers significant cost of operating cooling facilities.

Intel has also steadily improved the energy efficiency of its data center products. New core processors such as the Xeon Scalable Series offer higher performance than previous generations while consuming less power. As cooling performance increases, this reduces the operating costs of data center operators and allows more core processors to be packaged into chips.

This means that companies can get more computing power from the same resources without investing in more racks, increased power consumption or more cooling. Space efficiency is also a key issue; data center space is typically in high demand, so the more physical components that can be integrated into a single rack, the better.

Through a partnership with Micron, Intel has played an important role in advancing storage technologies, including the introduction of data striping technology to improve performance and pioneering high-reliability enterprise-class drives. It also led a working group that developed NVMe technology and recently jointly developed 3D Xpoint memory technology to provide unparalleled speed for low latency workloads. Intel's Optane family of memory and storage products, all supported by 3D Xpoint.

The end result of all these changes, developments, and advancements are modern data centers that can support complex, cloud-native workloads. The era of single-chip mainframes that support a single application is gone forever. Today, data centers host hundreds of complex multi-core processor servers, each with advanced software-defined networking and low-latency solid-state storage drives that power millions of simultaneous applications and processes.

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