HP debuts Barcelona-based quad-core servers

HP on Monday said it is shipping three blade servers with Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s quad-core processor, a blade server touted as consuming 64 per cent less power than similar hardware from other vendors and a rackmount server targeted at branch offices.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm plans to ship within weeks the ProLiant DL365 G5, DL385 G5 an DL585 G5, all of which include the Opteron 2352 Quad Core processor, originally code-named Barcelona and released by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD behind schedule last fall . Previous versions of these servers had dual-core processors.

“Customers are looking at consolidating and virtualizing and the ability of having greater performance per watt,” said Chris Christianopoulos, blade systems business development manager for Mississauga, Ont.-based HP Canada. “If you look at the footprint of the socket in any server, the ability to be able to double the core count gives it additional performance benefits that the customer would recognize. What is that performance going to be? That really varies depending on what the application is.”

Having quad-core processing presents several advantages for users, said Bill Terrill, an associate analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group . He said multi-threaded applications can be split and run on different cores simultaneously, while different applications can be run on different cores, without two applications sharing the time of one core. They can also save Windows Server users licensing costs, because the operating system’s price is based on the number of processors.

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“They filled out their product line nicely,” Terrill said of HP’s ProLiant servers, because the ProLiant BL260c G5, which works in HP’s BladeSystem c3000 and c7000 enclosures, is a low-cost blade server with features similar to some low-end rackmount units.

HP also launched the ProLiant DL120 G5, a rack-optimized server, 1 RU in size, that starts at $699 and includes Intel Xeon processors. It is available with Xeon, Celeron, Pentium 2 processors. Aimed at small organizations, it is designed for Web and edge-of-network applications, and has an optional remote management feature.

Pricing for the BL260c G5 blade server starts at $1,199. The blade has two Intel Xeon quad-core processors and is designed for a variety of applications, including file and print, messaging, enterprise resource planning, database and low-end high-performance computing applications. “The nice thing about the blade is they finally introduced a low-end low-cost blade,” Terrill said. “Most of the original processor blades from all the vendors were really upper end. If someone was looking at a blade server, they couldn’t do an apples to apples comparison with a rack.”

The BL260c G5 also has management features such as Integrated Lights Out, a power management pack and a power regulator.

Christianopoulos said HP is aiming to take features of high-end servers and put them into products designed for mid-sized companies.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s bladed technology or rackmount-based technology, it’s really around being able to drive performance, functionality, availability and the management capabilities further down into the mid market, and that’s what we’re doing.”

HP claims the BL260c G5 uses 64 per cent less power than any other blade available.

“Companies are looking at, ‘How do we become more green friendly?’” said Michael Yue, category business manager for HP industry standard servers.

“The more we can do around providing platforms that are more efficient from a power and cooling perspective, it’s going to be an additional benefit to those customers that are going to be looking at it.”

But Terrill said many small and mid-sized organizations don’t care how much power their servers consume.

“Mid sized companies aren’t as interested in the power issues as the large enterprises,” Terrill said. “If you have 20 or 30 servers, even going to a 60 per cent reduction in power usage for the server isn’t going to save you huge amounts of money, at least until you look at it over the long term, and most small to mid sized companies don’t look at it over the four or five-year life of the unit.”

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