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HP has released new servers based on the new Quad-Core Intel Xeon 7300 processor series, targeted at customers running data-intensive business applications such as databases, business intelligence, ERP, and large mail and messaging platforms in virtualized environments.

The rack-based HP ProLiant DL580 G5 is a four-processor server designed for virtualization and mission-critical datacenter deployments. The processor performance and large memory capacity of the DL580 G5 seeks to help improve staff productivity through fewer, yet more powerful, servers to manage with better-performing applications. The DL580 G5 also has double the memory capacity of its predecessor. The HP ProLiant BL680c G5 is HP's first four-processor quad-core server blade, is designed for performance with up to four Intel 7300 series processors, and has a large memory capacity for data-intensive applications. To assist organizations in meeting their virtualization and power-efficiency goals, both servers include a pair of management software tools. HP Insight Power Manager enables customers to cap power at specific wattages to increase the number of servers in racks or blade chassis while keeping power consumption in check, and HP ProLiant Essentials Virtual Machine Management Pack provides central management and control of both physical server resources and virtual machines, eliminating the need for separate management consoles.

HP also announced a joint commitment with Microsoft to define a data warehouse reference platform with the upcoming Microsoft SQL Server 2008 based on the ProLiant DL580 G5 with HP StorageWorks 50 Modular Smart Arrays. The platform is designed to help businesses mitigate risk and deploy their SQL Server 2008 data warehousing solutions with confidence and predictable results. The quad-core HP servers are currently available. Pricing for the DL580 G5 starts at \$9,219 and the BL680c G5 at \$9,669.

With all the focus on multi core processors and Intel's announced product path for its Xeon processors, it was only a matter of time before we saw the first quad-core chips hit the streets.

Multiple CPUs with multiple cores offer a fundamentally different building block for server design, and we are happy to see that HP continues to recognize this. These CPUs are well suited for tasks that are very computationally demanding such as databases, business analytics, etc., especially when the underlying applications have been optimized for multithreaded architectures. But these CPUs are also very adept at supporting consolidated workloads in virtualized environments. When matched with the correct software development architecture, multicore CPUs can deliver throughputs in sub \$10,000 solutions unimaginable even just a couple of years ago. When delivered as part of rack-based, or even better, blade-based solutions, such CPUs can significantly reduce the floor space, power consumption, and complexity inherent in the datacenter. However, ensuring that these savings are achieved requires more than just delivering the CPU on any motherboard; it requires a holistic, systematic approach to efficiency not only in supporting hardware, but in software as well. This is another example of HP's broader systems focus.

HP Insight Power Manager plays an important role in helping organizations achieve energy goals with these latest quad-core systems. In some cases, the issue is less about the absolute maximum system throughput than about ensuring that power consumption remains within a given envelope. For organizations that face power availability constraints in the datacenter, setting adjustable caps can aid in overall energy consumption, and indirectly benefit workload scheduling. When the resource cost and availability is factored into the service delivery equation, line-of-business personnel may find their expectations altered if they are to experience resource limitations first hand. This is not necessarily a monetary issue, but an overall resource prioritization issue. Accepting alternative service levels and workload flexibility in return for overall greater service may prove a sufficient balm to entice line of business managers to accept consolidated and shared resources and the option to reconsider and reprioritize what constitutes their most critical workloads.

The combination of multi-process, multicore, and virtualization for many spells complexity, confusion, and headache. With the HP ProLiant Essentials Virtual Machine Management Pack organizations should be able to overcome much of this complexity and take greater advantage of what virtualization has to offer. As the scale of consolidation efforts continue to grow, in large part due to ever more powerful servers, it is essential that organizations have the management and resource planning tools to enable IT professionals to maximize the cost-effectiveness of both their physical server resources and virtual machines. Consolidating a few workloads onto a couple of virtual machines on a single processor system is relatively straightforward matter, However, the capabilities of DL580 and BL680c scale far beyond this simple scenario, hence the importance of the Virtual Machine Management Pack should not be underestimated.

Overall, we view these announcements as further evidence of HP's desire to remain a leading innovator in x86-based servers. From a sheer processing perspective, all of these systems offer considerable bang for the buck; however, the greater value we see in these solutions is not simply in their computational ability, but rather in the holistic approach to processor, hardware platform architecture, and software management of the resources. To the end customer, the value is in the total solution, not just in the processor. We believe HP has understood this reality for some time, and these quad-core offerings are just another example of the value that ongoing innovation helps unlock not only in its products, but in the operations of the customers who buy them.

Copyright © 2007, The Sageza Group

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