Choosing New Data Center Servers and Processors

Data Center Knowledge has a useful series of articles going under the banner Data Center Energy Efficiency Guide.
This second piece in the series covers servers and processors, so why have we picked out this particular item? Well, as the intro states, server hardware accounts for a huge 57 percent of data center costs according to research from James Hamilton over at Amazon. Of course we are also interested because this is the area where 1E can bring big savings via our server power management offering.
But going back to purchasing, it’s really vital that you keep up to speed with the latest innovations around server hardware and processors in particular, so this timely piece delivers just the info you need if you are looking to make a purchase anytime soon.
The good news is that chip makers Intel and AMD have both focused on improving the energy efficiency of their processors, and new vendors are building servers based on low-power processors initially designed for mobile devices, including Intel’s Atom and the ARM chips that power the iPhone.
Coincidentally, and as a complete aside, I came across this amazing little GuruPlug server the other day that is effectively a server the size of a power adaptor – amazing! Now I’m not advocating that you fill your DC with these little fellas but it shows that technology is advancing fast in the server sphere. This new generation of servers offer more power and reduced energy use, which of course makes it easier to justify the investment . So what can we expect for our hard earned cash?
Intel has concentrated on energy efficiency, with its new 32-nanometer Core processor (Sandy Bridge). This little gem showcases a new microarchitecture that combines visual and 3-D graphics technology with microprocessors on a single chip. Then there’s the Atom processor, which was originally designed for use in netbooks. In 2010 SeaMicro unveiled a multi-core x86 server that can pack 512 Atom CPUs into a 10U server, providing the option to fit as many as 2,048 CPUs into a single seven foot, 40U rack. Phew!
AMD haven’t been idle either. They have recently introduced their Opteron 6100 processor family to address rising demand for increased performance-per-dollar-per-watt for enterprise and public sector environments.
Coming up on the outside, one to watch is UK-based ARM Holdings, as its low-power chips are making the move from mobile devices to servers. Not too many available as yet but it looks promising and ZT Systems seems to be the first out of the gate with an ARM based server offering.
It goes without saying that if you are looking around for new server hardware, the place to start is the federal government’s Energy Star for Enterprise Servers program. These guys list all the latest and greatest out there and the list is constantly updated as new models get the Energy Star stamp of approval.
Finally, I want to make a really important point. All of the new developments in server hardware still rely on skilful optimization of the Operating System, so although these new servers an processors can be highly efficient, you still need to ensure that you deploy server power management in order to make the most of the savings available and to ensure that your shiny new boxes are all performing Useful Work all the time. That, as they say is where we come in..


Digital Employee Experience (DEX) in the Enterprise: Progress, Patterns, and Gaps

DEX Report