OEMs Ease Power Crunch

Dell and HP offer energy-efficient hardware and software to meet growing data center demands.

With a potential crisis looming in data centers worldwide, systems makers continue to seek ways to deliver more performance in their servers while throttling back on the power those machines consume.

Dell is making the latest move, bringing the Energy Smart technology that the company first introduced in OptiPlex commercial desktops in September to two new server models.

The Round Rock, Texas, company on Dec. 4 introduced the energy-efficient technology into its PowerEdge 1950 and 2950 servers, which offer a 25 percent improvement in performance per watt compared with current Dell systems while cutting power consumption by 20 percent.

The technology enables enterprises to increase the density of their infrastructures and accomplish more work in the same amount of space, said Neil Hand, vice president of worldwide enterprise marketing at Dell. Dell will bring the power-efficient features to more servers next year, he said.

"Most customers most of the time are trying to put more [performance] into the same space that they had before," Hand said. "The dollars saved [through lower power consumption] are not quite as important as being able to optimize what they have."

Dells announcement came a week after Hewlett-Packard, of Palo Alto, Calif., unveiled new services, hardware and software designed to bridge the gap between IT and facilities departments by enabling better monitoring and control of temperature and power consumption in data centers.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about Hewlett-Packards efforts to monitor and control data center heating and cooling costs.

Earlier in November, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., rolled out an upgraded version of its Power Executive software suite that not only monitors the amount of power used but also enables administrators to cap the amount of energy flowing into its blades.

The announcements come at a time when the twin issues of power consumption and heat generation are becoming top concerns for enterprises that are seeing their power costs grow rapidly. The key culprits include the increasingly greater density of IT equipment—servers, in particular—the rising cost of energy and the high prices for new data centers.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about IBMs "cool" data center solutions.

At their annual data center conference in Las Vegas, Gartner analysts said Nov. 29 that the problems will soon reach crisis proportions, with half of all current data centers running out of power and cooling capacity by 2008. High-density computer equipment is chief among the reasons, they said, pointing out that IT administrators could now pack a rack with systems that required 30,000 watts, where only a few years ago the power consumption was more like 3,000 watts.

Dells new Energy Smart systems are designed to enable users to increase density to the point where they can run four of these servers in the same space—and within the same power envelope—as three standard systems.

Among the energy-efficient features in the new servers are low-flow fans, high-efficiency power supplies, low-voltage dual-core Xeon processors from Intel, and component designs aimed at greater efficiency and air flow.

For its part, HPs Dynamic Smart Cooling offering is designed to save customers up to 45 percent in power costs. Through a new service, HP technicians will evaluate and offer recommendations to help cool a companys data center and also offer software and hardware that will help monitor power and heat. HP will examine the data center, install sensors to determine the hottest spots and the places where energy is escaping, and then install a monitoring system to keep track of temperature and power.

The solution addresses the concern of both the IT administrator and facilities manager, said Steven Cumings, HPs director of marketing for storage networks and infrastructure.

"This has been the talk of both our big and small customers—that they are having trouble with their cooling capacity and that they have been running out of headroom," Cumings said. "There really is a conflict between IT, which wants as much computing power as possible, and the facilities guys, who have to try and get the most power into the data center."

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