OEMs are taking advantage of the availability of Intels latest Xeon DP processors to bring new features to their x86 server lines.
IBM is offering its PowerExecutive in its line of System x servers, starting with new machines announced May 23 that will be armed with Intels dual-core “Dempsey” processor. At the same time, Hewlett-Packard is rolling out new software designed to simplify the migration of x86 Windows-based servers to Intels new platforms, as well as enhancements to its ProLiant architecture, including new HP Smart Array RAID controllers and small form-factor SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) drives.
Meanwhile, Dell on May 23 announced two new Precision workstations, and MPC Computers said it will use Intels new 5000 series of chips in upcoming NetFrame servers.
Dempsey, which began shipping in the first quarter, is part of a larger push by Intel to refocus its processors on overall performance rather than pure speed. The 65-nanometer chip comes with a number of features designed to improve performance without simply cranking up the frequency, including the Intel Virtualization Technology.
The effort comes after rival Advanced Micro Devices has cut into Intels dominant market share in both server and client processors over the past three years. AMD designed its Opteron server chip to be energy-efficient and has beaten Intel in offering such features as 64-bit capabilities and dual cores. Opterons also have boasted a smaller power envelope than Xeon chips, something Intel is working to catch up on. The energy efficiency of the chips is becoming increasingly important as concern grows among businesses over power and cooling costs in their data centers.
The mainstream Dempsey chip will have a power envelope of 95 watts, with the performance-optimized Dempseys coming in at 135 watts. Mainstream Opteron chips have a power envelope of about 95 watts.
The chip also will enhance performance by doubling up on buses that carry data to processors and memory, and by using FB-DIMMs (fully buffered dual in-line memory modules).
Dempsey is an interim step for Intel before it launches “Woodcrest,” the first Xeon built on its new Core microarchitecture. The chip is expected to ship in June.
Intel officials initially put the mainstream Woodcrest processor at 80 watts, but in an interview with eWEEK, they said the mainstream chip will come in at 65 watts, with a low-voltage Woodcrest having a power envelope of 40 watts. The chip initially will top out at 3GHz.
Intel officials predict Woodcrest will improve server performance by 80 percent while cutting power consumption by 35 percent.
IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is looking to improve the overall energy efficiency of its System x servers by making its PowerExecutive feature—first introduced in its BladeCenter blade servers in 2004—available in all of its System x servers, starting with the new Dempsey-based System x2650, x3550 and x3500 servers introduced May 23. They will be available June 9, said Rob Sauerwalt, director of brand management for System x and BladeCenter.
PowerExecutive, which is part of the IBM Director server management software, enables users to monitor power usage in a server or group of servers, and develop data to track those trends to better manage the overall power usage in the data center, Sauerwalt said.
In the third quarter, IBM will unveil PowerExecutive 2.0, which will enable users to cap the amount of power used by a server or group of servers, giving them more control over power consumption and ensuring that these servers wont go beyond the power capabilities of the data center.
“Now that I know what I use, I want to control what Im using,” Sauerwalt said. “I want to set limits on what I will draw without hurting performance in the data center.”
He said Intel has done a good job with Dempsey in managing the power envelope, and that PowerExecutive takes advantage of the power-efficiency features in the chip.
“Power management is not a software-only solution,” he said. “You need to marry the software and the hardware.”
HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., is rolling out new ProLiant and BladeSystem servers powered by Intels new dual-core chip. The systems offer a number of energy-efficiency features, including power metering that measures power consumption and heat generation and a power regulator that can throttle down CPU power depending on the workload.
Other new features include array controllers and SAS drives, and an automated migration feature—the HP ProLiant Essentials Server Migration Pack—that makes moving to Intels new processor platform a point-and-click process, said John Gromala, director of server product marketing for HP. Before, administrators had to go through a laundry list of steps before making the move to a new platform.
“With one click, this migration pack can move all of these over at one time,” Gromala said.
HP also is introducing the Integrated Lights-Out—or iLO—2 management processor, which enables administrators to remotely gain control of ProLiant and BladeSystem servers via a Web browser.
The ProLiant DL140, DL360, DL380, ML150, ML350, ML370 and BL20p systems will be available in late June.
Dell is bringing Dempsey to its Precision 490 and 690 workstations, which officials said will bring performance gains of 45 percent to 155 percent over current models. A Dell spokesperson said systems powered by Woodcrest will be announced later this summer. The announcement comes less than a week after Dell announced it was going to start selling four-socket systems powered by Opteron by the end of the year.
Senior Writer John G. Spooner contributed to this article.
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