IBM touts products to cut data centre energy costs

IBM Corp. this month unveiled hardware and software to help automate the management of power consumption in the data centre to improve power utilization and reduce energy costs, the company said.

IBM also introduced a new line of System x servers based on the second generation of IBM’s Xtended Design Architecture (XDA), said Stuart McRae, Worldwide Manager for IBM System x. The new systems, including the x3650, x3550 and x3500, feature the latest in dual-core processor technology and three times the memory expansion of earlier systems, IBM said.

“We’re excited because the new platforms deliver 90 per cent better application performance and 74 per cent better performance per watt,” said McRae. “Power cooling is the number one challenge for customers’ data centre environments — the more servers they pack in, the hotter they are.”

The introduction of IBM PowerExecutive into the mainstream dual-socket servers is also important, McRae said. IBM PowerExecutive, an extension to IBM Director systems management software, allows clients to “meter” actual power usage and trend data for any single physical system or group of systems. Developed by IBM Research, PowerExecutive utilizes IBM-developed monitoring circuitry to determine how much power is being used and the temperature of the system. The software is available across the System x servers introduced last month, as well as IBM’s BladeCenter line of systems.

“[It’s] about managing the power consumption of your server resources — getting good information and allowing customers…to know how much power their servers are consuming and then giving them the ability to control the amount of power their servers are consuming,” he said. “Think of it as a cruise control for the power consumption of servers.” Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. in Beaverton, Ore., said the most interesting piece of IBM’s news is the PowerExecutive.

“This is something I haven’t seen from anybody else in the market,” he said. “This is something that competitors and other companies and even server groups within IBM are going to need to respond to and build that type of capability into their systems.”

Mitch Rosen, chief technology officer at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, said the university has deployed IBM System x two-way rack servers in a Linux cluster to support its computer- and data-intensive biomedical engineering research. Having the new server family was essential for the school.

As for PowerExecutive, Rosen said that with the limited floor space he has to deal with operating in an historical landmark (the university was founded by Thomas Jefferson), he sees strong value through reducing power consumption and cooling requirements.

“Providing cooling in Thomas Jefferson’s university here, having a high-compute capability and being able to manage some of the power and cooling costs is just in the sweet spot of what we need,” said Rosen.

IBM PowerExecutive was first introduced for IBM BladeCenter in November 2004 and is available across the IBM System x line of servers free of charge.

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