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Modern IT managers face many challenges in a constantly evolving technology environment, including ever-increasing workload demands that are constantly shifting between cloud and on-premises and requirements that continue to grow for flexible performance to manage those workloads, all while simplifying IT operations. And, on top of those managerial pressures comes the mandate to drive for greater sustainability.

Two leading partners of World Wide Technology (WWT), Cisco and Intel, have taken a significant step toward addressing those challenges with the latest Cisco UCS M7 servers — the seventh-generation of UCS X-series blade servers and C-series rack-mount servers. Cisco's new M7 UCS portfolio with high-performance, energy-efficient servers is powered by another 2023 newcomer, the 4th Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor — designed for sustainable performance and manageability to handle highly demanding workloads. In fact, it was innovations like this latest processor that earned Intel a No. 2 ranking among Barron's Most Sustainable Companies for 2023. Cisco introduced its M7 product line in January, coinciding directly with the launch of Intel's 4th generation processor, with some versions of the servers now ready for order and shipping.

In this article, we will be examining a few of the major advancements in the Cisco UCS M7 servers, how they pair with the latest Intel Xeon Scalable processor capabilities, and what they can mean for your organization.

Cisco Intersight™ manageability supports IT needs and sustainability goals

For those unfamiliar, Cisco Intersight is a unified software-as-a-service platform for hybrid cloud operations, delivering an always-expanding suite of advanced management capabilities for traditional, cloud-native and hybrid IT infrastructures.

An additional subscription to Cisco Intersight is the Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer (IWO) feature, which can help users track metrics such as power usage effectiveness (PUE) earlier in the orchestration process to determine whether a given workload should be on-prem or in the cloud for optimal energy efficiency. IWO allows for power monitoring at the server level and provides improved power consumption visibility and management. And, it enables users to create monitoring and management policies for such functions as chassis power supply units, allocating power as needed.

Yet another subscription working within Cisco Intersight is Nexus Cloud, which can be configured to monitor and report power consumption and other metrics on Cisco network infrastructure. Combined with the new X-Series server, these resources — Intersight, IWO and Nexus Cloud — work together to account for energy inputs and cloud expenditures as they recommend cost-saving actions.

Other new Intersight power metrics features include:

  • Dynamic power balancing – Dynamically relocate power through the chassis automatically to maintain an even power draw; when a server is running too hot, reallocate power between "A" side and "B" side servers to moderate cooling resources.
  • Power policies for capacity – Continually be "power-aware" by monitoring power at a server level. This improved visibility of power consumption helps IT determine whether power monitoring, capping or another action is warranted.
  • Power capping – Save energy by placing a cap on a watts-per-server basis to conserve power.
  • Maximize performance – Utilize software to control and fine-tune the use of power per core in the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor, and take advantage of many more power options with the policy-driven model of Cisco Intersight (BIOS policy).
  • Capture more power data – When managing Cisco X-Series blades, it's important to be aware of this power feature available to you: use the open API to pull power metrics from your server, aggregating them to view as a month-to-month power consumption chart.

Performance, efficiency and sustainability from 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs

Cisco and Intel are longtime collaborators, jointly advancing all aspects of information technology, from 5G and the Internet of Things (IOT) to data center transformation. Since 2009 they have co-innovated to develop an entirely new server computing category with fresh capabilities, introduced as the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).

This latest UCS offering is powered by the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor, designed to accelerate performance across demanding workloads. Released earlier this year, it features 14 built-in Intel® Accelerator Engines to make optimum use of processor core resources for tasks as varied as artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, networking, storage and high-performance computing (HPC) — all while protecting data with advanced, hardware-enabled security and helping organizations meet sustainability goals.

Here are just a few of the built-in accelerators included on the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor:

  • Intel® QuickAssist Technology (Intel® QAT) offloads major tasks such as encryption/decryption and compression from the processor, accelerating networking and storage while providing significant value in security-intensive applications, with all policies driven by Cisco Intersight. Previously available only as a separate PCIe card, the built-in Intel QAT accelerator enables Cisco UCS M7 to compress and encrypt in a single data flow.
  • Intel® Advanced Matrix Extensions (Intel® AMX) expands AI performance on the CPU to include fine-tuning models and small and medium deep learning training models. It improves the performance of deep learning training and inference through accelerated matrix multiply operations. Intel AMX is ideal for workloads such as natural-language processing, recommendation systems and image recognition. And, it's compatible with the new Intel® Data Center GPU Flex Series, a flexible, robust graphics processing solution for the intelligent visual cloud.
  • Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX) is a principal feature of Intel® Security Engines, designed to sharpen Cisco's focus on implementing a zero-trust strategy through hardware-enabled security. Thoroughly researched, field-tested and refined, Intel SGX enables organizations to explore new business collaboration opportunities and share insights, even with sensitive or privileged data. Rather than excluding that data from analytics or AI, it can be used securely and confidentially.

WWT can help you derive the full benefits of Cisco and Intel's co-innovation

The intersection of these complementary technologies — the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor with unprecedented built-in acceleration, Cisco UCS-M7 servers, and the Cisco Intersight management platform — can raise operations to new levels of performance, security and sustainability in a continually changing and demanding technology environment. 

At the same time, understanding how to realize the greatest long-term value from these advanced capabilities can be a daunting challenge — unless you can tap the knowledge, experience and resources of a world-class solutions integrator to guide you through every step efficiently and with confidence.

This Cisco/Intel solution will soon be available for evaluation in WWT's Advanced Technology Center (ATC), our multi-campus R&D ecosystem of expertise, where organizations can come for deep-dive education, demos, walk-throughs, hands-on labs and much more. In addition to education and experience, the ATC can be your proof-of-concept resource, with the assurance of knowing that WWT has already tested and verified all OEM performance claims. And, we can assist in specifying, purchasing, deploying, testing and rollout of your go-to-market strategy.

WWT subject matter experts are here to help you envision how this joint solution can benefit your cloud infrastructure. Contact your WWT account representative for an internal briefing.