Tactical Advice

Power Play

HP's ProLiant DL380 G6 and DL580 G5 servers are eco-friendly, offer virtualization improvements and have plenty of free power management software.
This story appears in the September 2009 issue of BizTech Magazine.

Photo: Ale Ventura/Getty Images

Take a close look at HP’s ProLiant DL380 G6 base machine and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the world’s top-selling servers. The general-purpose, rack-mounted server, which HP introduced in March, comes equipped with dual-core Intel Xeon 5500 processors and a long list of power improvements over previous HP blade systems.

Among the improvements for the 2.26-gigahertz G6 machine is the transfer of HP’s Thermal Logic technology from its blade servers, which saves power by optimizing environmental conditions. New power features include a multitude of smart sensors on the system board, which monitor the server’s thermal environment and respond accordingly. If the sensors detect that the ambient temperature is cool and the processors don’t require extra cooling, they will throttle down the fans and cut back on power consumption, says Krista Satterthwaite, product marketing manager for industry-standard servers at HP. The sensors can also detect if any of the server’s 18 memory or six I/O slots aren’t being used and then reduce the power and fan speeds to those slots.

HP has also standardized power supplies for both the G6 and the ProLiant DL580 G5 High Performance server. Previously, each server had its own power supply. Now, there’s a common power slot for each machine and several different power supplies to choose from, including 460-watt, 750-watt and 1,200-watt power supplies, each of which have an efficiency rating of 90 percent or better.

As part of its G6 and G5 server packages, HP provides free power management software, called HP Power Advisor, to help determine how much power is needed for individual servers based on the server type, the amount of processor and memory they contain and the server’s basic configuration.

Virtual Performance

With six chips in each of the dual sockets, the G5 machine runs virtualized software applications more easily than its four-chip predecessor. “You’d rather have one larger system for virtualization than two smaller systems,” says Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata, an IT research company in Nashua, N.H.

By comparison, the six-processor G5 provides a 36 percent performance improvement over the four-processor machine for general-purpose computing, while offering a 48 percent performance boost when running database software, says Satterthwaite.

The six-core processors on the G5 should benefit Microsoft customers because Microsoft licenses its software based on the number of processors and not the number of chips on each processor, says Satterthwaite.

The G6 is comparable to the IBM x3650 (7979) server, although the IBM machine is optimized for up to eight-core processor performance.

Meanwhile, the four-socket G5 is comparable to IBM’s x3850 M2 server, which touts 8GB of hot-swappable standard memory and two Intel Xeon MP x7460 Hexa-core processors.

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