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The first SL6000 server node is the SL160z, which is a server tray that takes up 1U of space horizontally in the z6000 chassis and which includes one server node that has 18 DDR3 memory slots to support the maximum of 144 GB of memory available for Nehalem EP servers using Intel's "Tylersburg" 5520 chipset. (Cisco Systems, as you know, will this month ship blade servers based on the Nehalem EPs that have a homegrown memory expansion ASIC that boosts capacity to 384 GB for a two-socket blade.)

The SL160z has room for two 3.5-inch SATA or SAS disks. The SL170 uses a half-width motherboard that has its memory crimped back to 16 slots (for 128 GB max) and room for six 3.5-inch disks on that 1U tray. The SL2x170 server tray has two half-width Nehalem EP server nodes, each with up to 128 GB of memory and one 3.5-inch disk. As you can see, hyperscale customers don't seem to be all that interested in the power savings that come from 2.5-inch SATA or SAS disks, or else HP would be putting them in the ProLiant SL server nodes. (This strikes me as odd, but these customers are probably more interested in raw capacity, dollars per I/O, and dollars per GB than anything else when it comes to local disk storage on their server nodes.)

Gromala would not comment on when or if HP might deliver ProLiant SL machines based on Advanced Micro Devices Opteron line of processors, but it seems likely that it will eventually do this, particularly if the Opterons can demonstrate performance or price/performance benefits compared to Nehalem boxes.

All of these ProLiant SL machines will be available in July; pricing for individual parts of the boxes has not yet been announced.

By HP's math, the shift from standard rack servers to the SL iron can result in significant savings. Gromala did some calculations on the back of an envelope for a 100,000 square foot data center and reckons that 88,032 server nodes could be crammed into that space putting four SL nodes in a z6000 chassis and putting 1,048 racks into that space. By going dense and using the SL nodes, HP reckons a hyperscale data center operator could save $14.5m on server acquisition costs.

Those servers would use 170 megawatt-hours per year less of electricity thanks to the shared power and cooling inside the z6000 chassis, and that translates into another $13m in savings. And in terms of weight savings, using the SL designs means chopping out 838.5 tons (US, not metric) of weight, which adds up on the shipping bill and which means data centers can be a little less rugged. This saves money, too.

As usual, HP has a slew of polysyllabic services that go along with the new iron, such as the Data Center Environmental Edge collection of services for implementing the HP Extreme Scale-Out (ExSO) portfolio. Basically, HP will be recommending that customers deploy DL1000 or SL6000 machines to boost density or save money, or both. ®

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