Feeds

Intel pushes denser data centres

Buy new servers more often - it'll make you greener....

Application security programs and practises

Intel has kicked off a campaign to make data centres more efficient and less environmentally damaging. Paradoxically, one of its key messages seems to be that companies need to refresh their servers - ie. buy new ones - more often.

On the plus side, the company is also promoting the use of server virtualisation to make systems more productive - its target for its own data centres is to increase average server utilisation by 20 per cent.

Speaking at an Intel-hosted conference on data centre design last week, Pat Gelsinger - formerly the company's CTO and now the senior VP in charge of its digital enterprise group - hammered the "older IT wastes power" angle.

He said Intel's own experience was that it could save both power and space in its data centres - it has some 140 of them, around the world - by consolidating existing systems onto more capable new hardware using server virtualisation.

Dan Costello, a director of Intel's own IT operation, added that the chip maker's experience showed it was best to make data centres as dense as possible - it is aiming for 15kW per cabinet. As well as reducing the floor area needed, it means less empty space to light and cool, simplifies airflow management, and cuts power transmission losses by having shorter cable runs.

He said bladeservers offer even greater efficiency because the servers share fans, backplanes and power supplies, with all their associated energy inefficiencies.

"A six year-old server takes up valuable resources that could be better used, so we have accelerated our refresh rate," he said. "Refreshing one data centre gave us three times the performance for only four per cent more space utilised. Power is now the limiting factor."

A new dual-core Xeon server provides 40 per cent more performance than a Pentium III equivalent while consuming 40 per cent less power, Gelsinger noted, adding: "Consolidation delivers efficiency - many servers were typically older and under-utilised.

"A dual-processor server is around 300W, fully loaded. The question is how much performance you can deliver within that thermal envelope. Over one year we have delivered four times the performance inside the same power envelope."

He added that the move to 45nm with the upcoming Penryn Core2 processors would bring yet more compute power per Watt. It allows them to have higher clock speeds and greater transistor density than the current 65nm versions, but for the same thermal budget.

As well as its applied research into more efficient data centres - it even has a design centre under construction in Israel that will use its data centre as the main source of heating for the building - Intel is also involved in developing benchmarks for measuring a server's energy efficiency, Gelsinger said.

However, he admitted that there are a lot of factors outside its control, especially what happens to older servers that get retired. It's one thing to factor in the cost of decommissioning, but if the scrap ends up polluting Africa, India, or China, the environmental benefit of buying new servers could be less than it looks.

Plus, the processor has become a smaller proportion of a server's total power budget - for example, current Woodcrest Xeons consume 65W versus 110W for the earlier Irwindale generation. So it becomes harder for Intel to enable further significant power savings, and the memory, power supply and hard disk designers have to shoulder more responsibility. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
SHOCK and AWS: The fall of Amazon's deflationary cloud
Just as Jeff Bezos did to books and CDs, Amazon's rivals are now doing to it
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.