HP Unveils 'Power Capping' for Servers

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-11-03

HP Unveils 'Power Capping' for Servers

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Hewlett-Packard on Nov. 3 unveiled a laundry list of new products and services with the "Green IT" common denominator connecting all of them.

The additions to its Thermal Logic portfolio include a new power-saving ProLiant server, new power-capping server software and energy-efficiency services. All are designed to reduce operational costs and shrink data center carbon footprints by using a smaller power draw and less energy for air cooling.

Thermal Logic is new software embedded in HP products and services that combines precise measurement and control of power and cooling in data centers with energy-efficient product and solution design.

The most important new Thermal Logic item is HP Dynamic Power Capping, which reallocates power and cooling resources in the data center by setting or "capping" the power drawn by the servers, Peter Gross, president of EYP Mission Critical Facilities, told a group of reporters here at Building 3 on the company campus.

This "power capping" eliminates the need for over-provisioning, allowing companies to reclaim trapped energy and improve their overall computing and/or storage capacity, Gross said. The power allocations are set in advance by IT managers, based on previous server history, but can be changed on the fly automatically as situations demand.

"The older data centers were always set up so that there was way more capacity than what was actually required," Gross said. "This was the way they were all built, because as an IT manager, you never wanted to get caught with the breakers tripped.

"You always had to have way more capacity than you needed in case of a disaster. And this necessarily led to a lot of wasted capacity, and thus wasted power and cooling to maintain it."

New ProLiant server uses 25 percent less power

Now, with huge advances in data center software development during the last several years, much better control of computing power and storage capacity is available.

HP has released a new blade server, the ProLiant BL460c G5, which has been redesigned for energy efficiency -- using new, cooler-running processors -- and optimized for power-constrained environments, HP Vice President of Marketing for Servers Paul Gottsegen said.

"This server uses only 44 fewer watts per blade, saving more than 700 watts per enclosure compared to its [HP] predecessor -- up to a 25 percent energy-efficiency improvement," Gottsegen said.

In addition, HP announced that its BladeSystem c7000 enclosure has been enhanced with a new HP 24000W High Efficiency Hot-Plug Power Supply. This provides higher efficiency than existing power supply units and also reduces losses at low loads by placing half the power supply in standby, Gottsegen said.

Two other key additions to the HP portfolio are Energy Efficiency Analysis, which offers a comprehensive assessment of a customer's data center using HP's proprietary return-on-investment modeling tool, and Energy Efficiency Design, which provides designs for new buildings or retro-commissioning existing facilities for compliance with worldwide environmentally accredited standards.

Energy Efficiency Analysis provides scenarios and cost benefits along with detailed plans for energy-efficiency improvements, investment payback and facility reliability, Gross said.

Design Firm Acquisition Is Key to New Services

HP's new package is based largely on the $200 million acquisition data center designer EYP Mission Critical Facilities earlier this year. Since last winter,  Hewlett-Packard has been building its own in-house, all-purpose build-a-data center capability.

EYP Mission Critical Facilities, based in Los Angeles, was a well-established, privately held company providing data center consulting services.

HP also acquired outsourcing giant EDS, the purchase of which set back HP's cash savings about $14 billion, in 2008. That acquisition boosted HP's stake in the consolidated services market against world leader IBM.

Both EYP and EDS have helped boost HP's goal of trying to become a full-service, "one-stop shop" data center builder for any business -- Web-based or otherwise.

EDS, with 139,000 employees, was the world pure-play leader in outsourced IT services, with a current market cap of around $10.5 billion. HP dabbled a little in outsourced services in the past, but now it's really on the map in that market.

"The key to both transactions was that each of the new additions brings industry credibility that could not be obtained in any other way," Validus DC Systems Chief Operating Officer Ron Croce, a longtime industry observer, told eWEEK. Validus is a startup specializing in DC power distribution.

"Both of those companies [EDS and EYP] are well respected in their sectors. HP has great credibility on its own but it didn't have the expertise in these areas that these two established companies bring to the table. If you're a CIO looking to invest a lot of money in a new-generation data center, you tend to look to the best in the field to help you," Croce said.

A lot of new data center construction is in the offing, Croce said.

"Data centers generally run in 10-year cycles. A lot of them were built in the late '90s for the Internet boom, and now those are way outdated-especially when it comes to conserving power," Croce said.

"It's very expensive to renovate the old ones ... much of the time, it's better and more cost-effective just to build new ones, using the new, power-efficient systems."

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