Mission Critical Computing Blog
Your source for the latest insights on HP Integrity, mission critical computing, and other relevant server and technology topics from the BCS team.

Server Power, Cooling, and Density, Tukwila, and more...


Last week, we had a training event for some of our internal as well as partner reps out here in California. One of the topics that I got to present multiple times was Greener UNIX.


I have asked the question, multiple times, about which has a higher importance: increasing server density, or allowing systems to take up more physical room but consuming less power. While I often get a mixed response, with the economy starting to recover, the answer was almost anonymous "help me get more stuff in my datacenter."


Most customers seem to like higher density - but hate the idea that while they might get much more performance, they might only deploy half full racks (preferably with blanking panels in them) since they can only power or cool at a certain density. You get more performance, smaller footprint, and a  much better price/performance, performance/watt, and performance/space. Hopefully the half full racks become less of an issue.


I also learned a few things, and got reminders about others:

  • Each watt saved on components has a significant multiplier - often >2.5x - by the time you get to the overall power and cooling draw.

  • High Efficiency power supplies, such as those used by HP BladeSystem and other HP servers, are great - but may save a few percent of system power usage. Turning on CPU power management, such as Green Active processors in HP-UX, has a much bigger impact on the total power usage than a more efficient power supply.

  • At least some of the people who work with customers mentioned that their customers are aware of the power savings features in HP-UX and on HP Integrity servers - even if they haven't implemented them yet. Implementation would be better, but at least people are talking about it.


Needless to say, there was talk around the Intel Itanium 9300 (aka Tukwila) announcement. I've seen some comments on the blog that people want to know about which servers will include these processors. The one comment, from the Intel press release, is "OEM systems are expected to ship within 90 days."


And on a personal note, I'm definitely enjoying the Olympics. However, having been born and raised in Canada, I'm happy to see the Canadian men's hockey team starting to have more success. The games against the Swiss and Team USA, my current home, were stressful to me as a fan. However, after dispatching the Russian team yesterday, I'm hoping to see a Canada and USA rematch - in the gold medal game.



Performance Improvements that make a difference

With the
announcement earlier this week of the Intel Itanium 9300 processor, as well as
the IBM Power 7 processor, there was a lot of talk in the press and blogs about
system performance. Performance improvements are a good thing. They help you
process the ever increasing amount of information you need to handle, but with
smaller, more efficient, lower cost servers. Let's face it, a whole lot of the
tech industry is built upon the pursuit of Moore's law - doubling the number of
transistors every 18 months. Granted, despite the coverage this week, performance is usually not the only, or even most, important consideration when purchasing a server. There are a lot of other factors such as management, availability, virtualization, automation, and software stacks that play into the decision. However, since the talk this week is often around performance, let's go with that topic.


Performance is often, at least in the press, described by benchmarks. Having said
that, many people realize that even when it comes to performance,  it isn't performance benchmarks that matter,
it is the real-world performance of your application, in your datacenter, that
matters. So, in this week when performance seems to be the hot topic, here are
a couple of things you may have missed over the previous few months.


First, last fall, HP
rolled out a number of papers and webcasts around the 2009 Gabriel UNIX
research. Gabriel Consulting surveyed UNIX users from all three major vendors.
But despite what the benchmarks may suggest, it turned out that HP Integrity
and HP-UX users had the highest ratings for
real-world, observed performance
. While benchmarks are interesting, they
don't tell the whole story, as everyone knows.


The second thing
around performance that you may have missed was some
updates to HP-UX 11i v3
in September and November of 2009. In September
2009 there were updates to LVM, and in November 2009, there were updates to
VxFS and OnlineJFS. Direct I/O and Concurrent I/O are now supported, and they
drastically increase the speed of the file system. How much? Performance now
comes in around 96% to 99% of raw disks, but with the manageability of a file
system. One manufacturing customer who shared their results with us found that
their 6 hour batch job dropped to 2 hours after they implemented Concurrent I/O
around the New Year. Concurrent I/O definitely helps with workloads that have
both reads and writes.


This type of
performance upgrade absolutely helps with observed, real-world performance.
However, it often isn't reflected in benchmark results, which are often run on
systems tuned for peak performance, and not real-world, managed environments.  If you are running HP-UX 11i v3, you just
need to update. If you are running HP-UX 11i v1 or v2, this gives you another
incentive to upgrade to HP-UX 11i v3.


The best part? For
HP-UX 11i customers with support contracts, you can get this performance
improvement at no additional charge. No extra software license fees. No new
hardware. No migration costs. Now that is a performance improvement that really
pays off!




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  • • Responsible for product management and marketing of NonStop Database, Business Continuity, and Cloud portfolios. Define product line strategy, positioning, branding, and messaging for all products in my portfolio. • Lead the Business Development efforts to build strategic partnerships to strengthen the eco-system. • Lead the GTM around Big Data with new innovative Analytics solutions resulting in incremental revenue opportunities. • Lead product marketing efforts including strategic positioning, Go-to-Market strategy, Sales Enablement and Analyst Briefing.
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  • I work as a Master Architect in HP Servers R & D group. I work with teams spread across the lab and outside to build solutions which are highly available on HP-UX, OpenVMS and Mission Critical Linux platforms. In particular I contribute to develop HP Serviceguard clusters, HP-UX Security and Middleware products. I have been with HP for last 17 years and have exposure to HA/DR field from both R & D and customer perspectives.
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