HP, IBM Unveil Xeon Systems With New Power Management Features

The two manufacturers said systems will begin shipping in the June timeframe and will support Intel's two new Xeon processors, code-named Dempsey and Woodcrest. HP said it is shipping with all of its new Bensley systems Integrated Lights-Out 2 (iLO2) management processor with high-speed, virtual KVM and improved power management capabilities.

iLO2 lets system managers monitor a server's power consumption as well as regulate its daily power draw, said John Gromala, director of platforms for Industry Standard Servers at HP, Palo Alto, Calif. Gromala said HP's system works with Intel's SpeedStep technology built into the processors that, like Intel's mobile processors, throttles down the power when server loads are light.

By using the tool, managers can set an overall wattage budget for the day and the software will ensure that system -- or a group of systems -- works within that threshold, said Gromala. "The CPU utilization will max out at that power budget," he said.

IBM, in the meantime, is offering power management extensions to its System Management Director software that ships with its servers. The first version of the software will let managers see how much power a server will draw. An additional version, which IBM said will be available later this year, will also let users cap power consumption.

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"As we go out in time we will also add capabilities so you can manage to a given performance level," said Rob Sauerwalt, global brand manager, IBM systems and technology group. "We will also add capabilities to be able to darken a portion of the chipsets."

The new power-management features in the one- and two-socket volume server space underscores the importance customers are placing on conserving power in IT infrastructure, whether it is in a large data center or in a closet in a small business or regional office. In a recent interview with CRN, Chad Williams, manager of public sector business at Matrix Integration, a Jasper, Ind., systems integrator, said power issues are increasingly becoming a concern for SMB customers and public sector customers.

"It is a topic that is getting bigger every year," he said. Regardless of the size of the data center, solution providers and vendors alike have reported that companies want to get more processing power in the same space. That mean reducing heat as well as power consumption.

Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices has seen acceptance of its dual-core Opteron server processor skyrocket as a result of the chip's price performance per watt metrics. Intel's first dual-core Xeons were considered by many to offer weaker performance compared to the Opteron and power consumption was higher -- an average of 130 watts compared to AMD's average of 85 watts for its chips. With the Bensley platform, Intel will roll out two processors that improve the price performance per watt metric. Dempsey, now called the Xeon 5000 series, is available now in 85-watt to 130-watt versions at price points starting at less than $200 in low quantities. It is being positioned as a low-cost server option. Woodcrest, to be called Xeon 5100 series and expected to be available in June, is Intel's lower-power part and is based on Intel's next-generation processor architecture to deliver better performance.

Intel's Dempsey processor was originally expected to ship earlier in the year but was pushed back, resulting in a roll-out just a month before Woodcrest. Now positioned by Intel as a value model, the chip has been offered up in a channel boxed SKU priced at less than $200 in an effort to give system builders a chance to compete in the low-cost space against Dell and other branded system makers.

HP's Gromala said the company will update Proliant and BladeSystem models with the two new processor models. But HP will not immediately offer a Dempsey-based server because the company wants all of its servers to use Intel's more robust B3 chipset.

All the HP models will include 667MHz fully buffered DIMM memory, small form factor serial attached SCSCI (SAS) drives and HP Smart Array RAID controllers. HP declined to release pricing until the models ship, expected in late June, the company said.

IBM, meanwhile, said it is extending its ReadyRAID capability to all of its Series X servers. The system will be priced from about $1,900 to $2,200, depending on configuration and will ship in June. A small business model will be available late June in the $900 to $950 price range.