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Displaying articles for: May 2009

Configuration Matters - What Affects Server Power Consumption: Part 1

Following on from my first post I'll take a look at the affect hardware configuration will have on the power consumption of the enclosure.

To do this I went into the Blade Power Sizer and configured up two equivalent systems. I kept the enclosure configuration constant with just 2 x Virtual Connect 1/10 Ethernet Modules and 2 x Virtual Connect Fibre Modules just to simplify the example.

The Blade configuration was BL460cG1, 2 x 2.66GHz CPUs, 16GB RAM, 2x 1Gbit Ethernet, 2x 4Gbit Fibre Channel, 2x 72GB 10K SAS Drives.

Why did I pick BL460cG1, to be honest the actual server doesn't matter, what I'm trying to show here is that the hardware configuration can have a very significant effect on the enclosure power consumption.  The nice thing about the BL460cG1 for this purpose is that it shows this really clearly.



Configuration A

Configuration B


BL460cG1 x 16

BL460cG1 x 16


E5430 2.66GHz

L5430 2.66GHz


8 x 2GB FB-DIMMs


Base Ethernet

1GBit Dual-Port Multi-Function

1Gbit Dual-Port Multi-Function

Additional Ethernets



Fibre Channel

Qlogic 4Gbit

Qlogic 4Gbit


2 x 72GB 10K SAS

2 x 72GB 10K SAS




Ethernet Switches

Virtual Connect 1/10

Virtual Connect 1/10

Fibre Channel

Virtual Connect 4Gbit Fibre Channel

Virtual Connect 4Gbit Fibre Channel




Power Supply

HP 2250W x 6

HP 2400W HE x 4




Idle Power



100% Load




The difference between the two configurations is 798W at idle and 1,617W at high load, which is a huge difference.

Where is most of the power difference coming from, well there are 3 differences in the configuration:

  1. CPU - E5450 (80W TDP) versus L5450 (50W TDP)

  2. Memory - 8 x 2GB FB-DIMMs versus 4 x 4GB Low Power FB-DIMMs

  3. Power Supply - HP 2250W versus HP 2400W High Efficiency

The power supply is worth about 200W (25%) at Idle and 300W (18%) at full load on this configuration. So it's a significant proportion of the difference at the idle load.  At the high loads, though, the majority of the difference between the two configurations is coming from the CPU and Memory.  A standard FB-DIMM takes approximately 10W per DIMM so the difference between 4 and 8 physical DIMMs is roughly 40W per server, additionally a Low Power DIMM uses 2W - 3W less than a standard DIMM.

So what can I take from this example? 

  • System configuration matters. A lot.

  • At high loads the server power consumption is the main factor

  • At low server loads the enclosure becomes a larger proportion of power consumption.

 What are the practical steps I can use to reduce power consumption.

  • Use the lowest power cost effective processor

  • Use smallest number of largest physical DIMMs that are practical and cost effective.

  • Use the highest efficiency power supply that is available

Comments as always are welcome. Let me know where you want me to go as I continue on with this series.

Part 2 of this series is Applications Matter


Virtually (and literally) #1

This week we released VMMark results for the new HP BL490c G6 server blade.  The scores establish the BL490c as
the highest performing 2-socket server blade for virtualization -- eclipsing blades offered by IBM, Dell, and Cisco.

By the way, this 2-socket result ( 24.24 at 17 tiles) follows just on the heels of our #1 4-socket blade result for the BL685c G6.

It's particularly revealing that the BL490c tops the Cisco B200-M1, since Cisco trumpeted performance on VMWare as a centerpiece
of their Unified Computing System.  Cisco engineers deserve lots of kudos for their innovative work on UCS.   Their UCS ideas seem very network-centric, though, and I think
the BL490c's VMMark result shows the benefits of looking at performance problems from the data center level, rather than just from the
CCIE's perspective.

To get this high performance, our engineers designed the right compute server (with high memory bandwidth and capacity),
and coupled it with lots of NICs and bandwidth provided by Virtual Connect Flex-10.  (We also bring in the right storage, too.)

Yet the breadth of HP BladeSystem means we can deliver that performance for vSphere, but not compromise on other workloads. 
No compromises in Top500-style high performance computing, for example, or for many, many other workloads.

Bonus: HP's high-performance virtualization solution (including the HP BL490c G6 server blade and HP Virtual Connect Flex-10) are available today.
Cisco's UCS?  Well...I just hope Cisco starts shipping that product sooner than Duke Nukem Forever.


Chargeback Glitch

Here’s a story about unexpected behavior prompted by some chargeback rules at Pfizer.  (By 'chargeback' I mean the budgeting scheme where IT resources are metered, then costs are attributed to the business units that consume them.) 


Larry Cannell notes that when department budgets were squeezed, users moved Sharepoint files to non-Sharepoint systems "all to avoid internal chargebacks. In the end...a lot of extra work...but no impact on the bottom line." For HP Bladesystem, tools that let IT departments implement chargeback are nothing new.  There are ways to both measure resource utilization, and to implement high-level chargeback policies   

HP has even added some ground-breaking capabilities here -- bringing continuous capacity planning tools into the x86 space, for example.  We’ve also added server power consumption as a resource that can be tracked historically for chargeback calculation – or even capped so businesses can predict their spend.

You have to think like a non-IT guy, though, to predict how your internal customers will react to your chargeback rules.  Put yourself in the shoes of a line-of-business manager: 

  • People will order from the "Value Menu".  If someone thinks he could squeak by with some minimal level of service, he’s going to try.

  • Square pegs will wind up in round holes.  To an HR guy, using a USB key as the primary backup device for your employee payroll database seems reasonable.

  • Exceptions have legs.  That handshake agreement to charge a little less because the legal department promised they’d use minimal bandwidth?  Ten minutes later, every other department will demand “the “low bandwidth deal”.

  • Don’t put nametags on hardware.  Especially with bladed infrastructure, you need to use language that avoids the impression that groups have “bought a server”.  They’re paying you for a service…How you deliver that is up to you, not them.


Least Favourite Question

I'm sitting here thinking about writing my first Blog post and trying to come up with something to say.  So I figured I'd start by trying to answer one of my least favourite questions (and before you all start to correct my spelling I'm not originally from the USA) and explain why it's so hard to answer.

The Question: "So much power does a blade enclosure use?"

The answer: "It depends."

What does it depend on? Everything.

How many Blades and which Blades do you have in the enclosure, which CPUS, are they the 50W, 60W, 80W, 95W or 120W versions, how many DIMMs and what size and rank are they, which mezzanines are installed, which Interconnects are installed, how many fans, what's the ambient temperature, what applications are running and how heavily loaded are they?

Even if you gave me all this information I still couldn't answer with any degree of accuracy, those final two items applications and application load really do have such a huge impact it makes it almost impossible to give the right answer. The best that I could do would be to give the maximum and minimum power usage based on that configuration and say you'll be somewhere in-between those two values.

In the next few posts I'll go into some detail about this starting with the affect hardware configuration has on power consumption.

OMG - that's a lot of blade servers

One of our specialists passed this cool picture along of a massive row of blades.  I'd tell you what customer it was from but they would hang me.


PS: you know you're a nerd when you think lots of blinking green lights are cool.  (guilty)

Ever have questions about iSCSI and BladeSystem

A customer asks 

"I have a BladeSystem BL460c G6 and I want to connect this server with an iSCSI connection. Do I need any additional software like, The ProLiant Essentials Accelerated iSCSI Pack, or the Microsoft iSCSI Target Software, to use this functionality?"

 Here is what Nathan in our ISS Engineering Problem Management has to say:

"The ProLiant Essentials Accelerated iSCSI pack enables iSCSI offloading on certain Multifunction NICs. This is not required if you just want to enable basic software iSCSI functionality which is handled by the OS. I am assuming you are referring to using the servers as iSCSI initiators and not targets, so the software needed depends on the OS. If Microsoft Windows Server 2008 then there is a software iSCSI initiator which comes with the OS image. Microsoft Windows Server 2003 requires a quick download from Microsoft.com of their latest initiator software."


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About the Author(s)
  • More than 25 years in the IT industry developing and managing marketing programs. Focused in emerging technologies like Virtualization, cloud and big data.
  • I am a member of the Enterprise Group Global Marketing team blogging on topics of interest for HP Servers. Check out blog posts on all four Server blog sites-Reality Check, The Eye on Blades, Mission Critical Computing and Hyperscale Computing- for exciting news on the future of compute.
  • I work within EMEA HP Servers Central Team as a launch manager for new products and general communications manager for EMEA HP Server specific information. I also tweet @ServerSavvyElla
  • HP Servers, Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and ExpertOne
  • WW responsibility for development of ROI and TCO tools for the entire ISS portfolio. Technical expertise with a financial spin to help IT show the business value of their projects.
  • I am a member of the HP BladeSystem Portfolio Marketing team, so my posts will focus on all things blades and blade infrastructure. Enjoy!
  • Luke Oda is a member of the HP's BCS Marketing team. With a primary focus on marketing programs that support HP's BCS portfolio. His interests include all things mission-critical and the continuing innovation that HP demonstrates across the globe.
  • Global Marketing Manager with 15 years experience in the high-tech industry.
  • 20 years of marketing experience in semiconductors, networking and servers. Focused on HP BladeSystem networking supporting Virtual Connect, interconnects and network adapters.
  • Working with HP BladeSystem.
  • Greetings! I am on the HP Enterprise Group marketing team. Topics I am interested in include Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and Management, and HP BladeSystem.
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