HP unveils Nehalem-based servers, touts energy efficiency

Power needs cut in half in new ProLiant servers, HP says

HP has built 11 new servers which use the highly anticipated Intel Nehalem architecture as well as HP technology to improve performance and manage power more efficiently, the vendor is announcing Monday. Each server in the new line uses fewer than half as many watts as its predecessor, says Paul Gottsegen, vice president of marketing for HP's industry standard server group.

Among the biggest problems data centers face today is the provisioning of power to servers, Gottsegen says. Servers use so much energy that IT pros can't get enough power to them and, even if they could, they don't have enough cooling to keep them at a safe temperature, he says.

"Every time I go to a data center, it's the strangest thing," Gottsegen says. "There are big, beautiful data centers, and every rack is only half-filled."

Intel's new Xeon processors, which were code-named Nehalem and are being formally unveiled by Intel Monday, offer numerous improvements related to efficiency of power use, the company says.

HP, which is introducing the new Proliant G6 line based upon the next-generation processors, claims it can wring out even more power savings by combining the new chips with a series of 32 sensors which automatically track thermal activity throughout the server and adjust cooling and processing needs as necessary. The granularity of this feature allows each fan within the server to be managed independently.

"The sensors dynamically adjust system components such as fans, memory and input/output processing to optimize system cooling and increase efficiency," HP says in a press release.

Another HP technology called Dynamic Power Capping sets limits on the power drawn by servers. Today, many IT pros provision too much power to individual servers because they think they need more than is actually required, according to Gottsegen. By delivering each server the power it needs and nothing more, IT pros will be able to place larger numbers of servers in their data centers without increasing total power use, HP says.

Dynamic Power Capping was introduced a few months ago and is being included in all 11 servers in the new line. Previously, just a few HP servers contained the technology.

The 11 servers include tower, rack and blade systems, and represent the largest launch of ProLiant servers since the product line was created, according to HP.

The servers are all either available now or will be within the next few weeks. Starting prices range from $1,000 to $2,105 and vary based on configurations.

Flash-based solid state disk is an option for several of the servers, but will be most useful in a blade system designed for virtualization, Gottsegen says. "That's the one where the premium you pay [for flash] makes the most sense," he says.

Gottsegen credited Intel for making its new chips more virtualization-friendly, allowing multiple virtual machines to run on a server without a performance hit. "The hardware assist you get with virtualization in Nehalem is dramatic," he says. "With Nehalem, it's so fast that you have to make sure the rest of the system is keeping up."

The new HP servers also include the following features:

  • Double the memory and storage compared with previous ProLiant generations.

  • A common power slot design that minimizes power waste by letting customers choose from four types of power supplies to match specific workloads.

  • ProLiant Onboard Administrator, software that simplifies setup and lets customers analyze server health remotely, even if the server is offline.

  • Insight Control Environment, a management console for managing and monitoring servers in the data center or from a remote location.

  • Virtual Connect Flex-10 Ethernet, an interconnect module that allocates the bandwidth from one 10Gb Ethernet port across four network interface card connections, reducing the need for additional network interface cards, switches and cables.

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