Sossaman Powers Down

Review: DC-powered server leverages Intel chip to reduce energy costs.

Intels new power-saving chip—the dual-core Low Voltage Xeon—makes one of its earliest appearances in Rackable Systems C1000-L01 server. eWEEK Labs tests of the server with the new chip—formerly code-named Sossaman—show it will provide organizations with exceptional performance per watt per dollar in a tiny 1U (1.75-inch) half-depth chassis.

As enterprises contend with power consumption and heat issues, IT managers are starting to look for more power-efficient solutions. Released March 14, Rackable Systems C1000-L01 combines Intels low-voltage processors with DC rather than AC power. This allows the server to draw a peak of 112 watts, comparable to the draw of a standard incandescent light bulb.

Rackable Systems does offer an AC-powered version of the C1000-L01 with the 2GHz dual-core Low Voltage Xeon processor CPUs. Even with AC power, the C1000-L01 has a peak draw of 126 watts per server, or 64 percent less than a typical dual-processor server drawing an average 350 watts.

The $4,020 DC-powered C1000-L01 unit we tested was equipped with two 2GHz dual-core Intel Low Voltage Xeon processor CPUs and 4GB of DDR2 (double data rate 2)-400 memory on a prerelease version of the Intel SE7520BB2 (code-named Baker Bay) motherboard.

Our server was also equipped with dual Gigabit Ethernet NICs, an 80GB SATA (Serial ATA) hard drive and a Rackable Systems DC power card that is normally fed between -48 and -54 volts of DC power when integrated into a cabinet.

Also released March 14, Intels dual-core Low Voltage Xeon processor is based on the Core Duo Yonah mobile processor. The 32-bit-only processor consumes about 31 watts of power and is considered to be Intels attempt to curb advances made by competitor Advanced Micro Devices with its Opteron processors. Rackable Systems officials said the Intel processors keep the C1000-L01s peak power within a 115-watt envelope.

The C1000-L01s chassis and power efficiency make it a good fit for dense and power-constrained data centers. Rackable Systems uses a 1U half-depth chassis, meaning the server measures 1.75 inches by 17.6 inches by 15.5 inches. This allows space-constrained organizations to stack machines back-to-back in a cabinet and effectively double the number of servers in the same footprint.

Since C1000-L01 servers are meant to be placed back-to-back in a DC cabinet, the ports, connectors and indicators are located in the front of the servers.

The C1000-L01 supports Microsofts Windows operating systems and various Linux distributions. The server can be equipped with up to two dual-core Intel Low Voltage Xeon processors, 16GB of DDR2-400 RAM, and one internal IDE, SATA II or U320 SCSI hard drive.

The C1000-L01 can be managed via Rackable Systems Roamer remote management technology, which gives IT managers a "lights out" management capability through a secure serial interface.

Using the remote management card, which is an option, IT managers can remotely control major server functions, such as reboot, power cycle and BIOS settings. The server also sports a customized LCD display that IT managers can configure to display the IP address or CPU load, or a customized message.

Rackable Systems DC- powered servers are typically deployed in DC cabinets that distribute redundant DC current power to each server. This allows organizations to replace standard AC power supplies that are often the biggest point of failure in servers. By purchasing a DC-powered solution, eWEEK Labs believes organizations will increase server reliability while lowering monthly power costs.

To test our C1000-L01, we used a -48-volt power supply converter that converted standard, 110-volt AC from our bench into the required -48-volt DC to the server. We also used a handheld milliamp meter to measure power usage.

To test power consumption, we loaded Microsofts Windows Server 2003 on our C1000-L01. To max our CPUs, we installed and ran the transaction-intensive Prime95—Windows-based software used by GIMPS (Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search), a distributed computing project dedicated to finding new Mersenne prime numbers. (More information on Prime95 can be found at www.

Using the torture-test feature in Prime95, we ran the in-place FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) size configuration, which primarily tests the FPU (floating point unit) and the caches of a CPU. While running four instances of Prime95s in-place FFTs—one for each core—we drew a maximum of 105 watts with all four CPUs at 100 percent utilization. When idle, the server drew 67 watts; when powered off, it drew 2.4 watts.

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