HP Unveils More Power-Efficient Rack, Blade Servers

by Andy Patrizio

The computer giant takes the wraps off new rackmount and blade servers designed to require as little intervention and management as possible.

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Hewlett-Packard introduced a new series of ProLiant G7 blade and rack servers on Tuesday that are designed to deliver better performance with the latest Intel and AMD processors, while reducing the amount of time needed to keep them running. The release is a continuation of HP's converged server strategy that aims to simplify access to computer, networking and storage resources.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) is touting a new architecture that features a "self-healing resiliency" to protect virtual machine apps and non-virtualized apps, with a focus on database applications in particular. The company estimates it can get three times the database server performance with the new eight-socket servers.

"It all revolves around converged infrastructure. As we talk about the mathematical equation, most organizations are spending 70 percent of their dollars on supporting existing infrastructure and less than 30 percent on innovations that can drive new IT efficiencies. The overall goal here is to invert that equation," said Dave Peterson, group manager for HP's industry standard servers.

A key part of the cost companies have to deal with is in energy and managing the server sprawl, whether it's real or virtual. "Based on those two, we need to change the energy efficiency game. The server introductions are designed to improve energy efficiency. When you look at the difference between current and past generations, it's a night and day difference," Peterson told InternetNews.com.

HP is making some bold claims with these servers; that they can consolidate up to 23 single-core servers onto a single machine, and customers will see a return on investment in as little as 30 days. Firms consolidating their old servers on this hardware can reclaim three times the capacity with proper provisioning and save up to $5 million per 1,000 servers per year.

All told, HP is releasing seven blade servers and three rack servers with the Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) Xeon 5600 and 7500 series of six- and eight-core processors and AMD's Opteron 6100 ("Magny-Cours") eight- and 12-core processors.

In addition, these are memory-dense servers, capable of holding up to 1TB of memory in a blade, the first blade to reach that limit. The rack-mounted servers will hold up to 2TB of memory.

The servers also sport a new architecture HP calls PREMA. It combines a smart CPU caching technology with a system fabric, delivering about a 20 percent performance improvement over prior generations of servers. PREMA can scale up to handle massive workloads all within memory instead of swapping to disk or only loading a portion of the data.

Increased memory capacity and performance is the emphasis here, as the Xeon 7500 server has up to four channels of memory to increase bandwidth as well as a special chip to take advantage of separate buffered memory that can temporarily store data alongside the main memory for faster task execution.

HP ProLiant BL680c G7 blade and DL580 rack servers run the Xeon 7500 and supports up to 1GB of memory, which will allow three times more virtual machines per blade server and require 73 percent less hardware per 1,000 virtual machines than prior generations of ProLiant blades.

In addition, HP's Virtual Connect FlexFabric technology is now built into its ProLiant G7 server blades, which connects the servers to the network and storage. With one cable, the servers are connected to a Fibre Channel network, Ethernet and iSCSI.

"The cable, network port and switch reduction is a huge move forward toward a key aspect from an architecture standpoint of a converged architecture called FlexFabric," said Peterson. He said that with this single connection, cabling can be reduced by up to 90 percent in a server enclosure.

Finally, HP's BladeSystem Matrix software is now integrated with HP's server automation technology to enable self-service provisioning of applications as well as taking down problem apps or virtual machines automatically.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Jun 23rd 2010
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