HP Doubles Its Blade Server Density

At the Supercomputing conference, HP shows off the latest of its double-density blade servers, the ProLiant BL2x220c G6 servers, which pack two Intel Xeon-based blades into the physical space of one. The goal is to help HPC administrators increase the capacity and energy efficiency of their environments while keeping costs down. HP also is introducing the first AMD-based ProLiant SL skinless servers.

Hewlett-Packard is making an effort to address concerns about power and costs in the high-performance computing space with a host of new hardware and software offerings, including a blade system that doubles the compute density in a single rack.

HP's ProLiant BL2x220c G6 puts two two-socket blade servers powered by Intel's Xeon 5500 Series chips into a single-sized blade compartment that fits into the company's c-Class chassis. The system also offers 33 percent more memory capacity than the previous generation.

The BL2x220c G6 follows on the company's first double-packed servers, which were released earlier in 2009 with previous Xeon models.

"It essentially doubles the compute power you can put in a rack," Ed Turkel, manager of business development for HP's Scalable Computing and Infrastructure Organization, said in an interview.

Turkel also said the power management features in the servers and the chassis increase the system's performance-per-watt capabilities.

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The BL2x220c G6 was one of a number of products HP is announcing at the Supercomputing show Nov. 16 in Portland, Ore., touching on everything from servers and storage to networking and software.

The offerings are part of HP's ExSO (Extreme Scale-Out) portfolio of products. HP in June rolled out the ExSO initiative, which aims to help businesses reduce their data center costs while increasing the capacity of their facilities.

At the heart of the strategy are the vendor's ProLiant SL servers, modular systems that offer a "skinless" lightweight rail and tray design, rather than the traditional chassis and rack form factors. The newer design is designed to reduce capital, operating and shipping costs, Turkel said.

"We make them extremely power- and cost-efficient by taking out what [metal] doesn't need to be in there," Turkel said.

In June, HP unveiled three ProLiant SLs powered by Intel processors. Now the company is unveiling the first one running on six-core Opteron "Istanbul" chips from Advanced Micro Devices.

The modular design also makes it easier to add capacity to HPC environments, where administrators are "looking for performance [and] looking for power efficiency," Turkel said.

The ProLiant SL series also is the basis for HP's new Cluster Platform 3000SL, which HP officials say doubles the density of traditional rack servers and is more energy-efficient due to features such as shared power and fans.

HP also is pitching its StorageWorks X9000 products-acquired through purchase of the Ibrix network storage software-to the HPC field, particularly for large-scale data-intensive jobs. The offerings, based on the Ibrix software, help businesses virtualize their file storage to create a single storage pool.

Turkel also said the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute is adopting HP's blade servers to power its newest supercomputer, named Itasca. The system will be powered by 1,083 ProLiant BL280 G6 servers, offering 8,664 computing cores. Itasca delivers up to 97 teraflops-or trillions of floating-point transactions per second-of performance.