I often find my discussions with customers at some point increasingly turn to server efficiency and what can HP do at the server level to help save power and cooling. If you’re being asked to look at the efficiency of your servers, you’ve probably seen the blogs and white papers on the work HP has been doing over the past few years to improve the energy efficiency of our ProLiant Servers. There are some great technologies in ProLiant servers that can really help you reduce your energy usage but how do you get the most efficient server for your application needs?
Next time you’re looking to order a new server, have a look at some of the options that are now available to help improve the efficiency of the server. The latest Intel and AMD processors used in ProLiant G7 servers offer unparalleled scalability over former generations. Have a look at the relative performance of your preferred processor against the older version you’ve previously used – you may be able to use a different model of processor that could save you money and power. The recent advances in processor performance and scalability mean that the conventional ways of choosing a processor (for example by clock speed or where it fits in the processor range) may not necessarily give you the best choice and it may be possible to use a more cost effective processor that will still prove faster than the one it’s replacing. Checkout the power efficiency of the different processors in a processor family to see which one offers the best performance/efficiency combination for your workload. Both Intel and AMD have some great resources on their sites to help position the power and energy efficiency capabilities of their processors that can help you select the best processor for your needs.
Next consider using low power components in the server. Low power memory can potentially save at least 20% of the power required for your memory over using standard memory – handy if you’ve got a server with a larger memory footprint. Although the latest SAS and SATA drives are more efficient than their former SCSI counterparts in your older servers, do you really need local disks in the server at all? Would your application be able to be hosted on a central SAN? You’d be amazed how all of these little configuration tweaks soon mount up – choosing a set of more power efficient components, it’s possible to save as much as 30-40% in the power required for a new server configuration compared to the one you’ve been using for a couple of years (and remember – that’s a saving for each new server you install).
There’s also something new to consider that we’ve never really had a choice with before – power supplies. HP offers a range of power supplies aimed at different power usage profiles so you can choose the most appropriate power supply for your projected workload. Checkout the efficiency of these new power supplies as the most efficient models will make the very best use of the power you’re supplying to the servers to make sure that you’re not wasting power unnecessarily.
To help build a new more efficient server specification for a given workload, HP has a number of tools that can help. If it’s been a couple of years since a server was last specified, have a look at the HP application and solution sizers at HP ActiveAnswers. These sizers can help to demonstrate the scalability and specification of a new generation ProLiant for industry leading applications and solutions. You may wish to modify these configurations a little to suit your needs but they’ll give you a configuration that you can use as a baseline with some confidence and may help to reassure you of the suitability of a configuration. It is also worth checking the latest benchmarks at the HP ProLiant Benchmarks site to get a feel for how scalable the new platforms are with different applications.
Once you’ve selected the amount of memory you need, the online HP ProLiant DDR3 Memory Configuration Tool allows you to optimise system memory for a number of different scenarios including power efficiency.
The tool will advise you of the type of memory to order and how to install it into the server to maximise system efficiency.
Once you have a server specification that you’re happy with, the HP Power Advisor tool allows you to understand the power and cooling requirements of the configuration. The tool allows you to model the effects of using different components such as a lower power processor, low power memory, etc. to see what the potential power and cooling savings could be. The tool will also help to determine the most appropriately sized and power efficient power supply for the new server for a specified server utilisation.
HP Power Advisor also allows you to compare different system and platform configurations so you can easily see the advantages of using different configurations. In this example we can see the difference in power and cooling requirements between similarly configured HP ProLiant DL360 G5 and G6 servers.
To compare the potential energy savings of a new server configuration with your existing servers, power calculators for some earlier ProLiant servers are also available from the HP Power Advisor web site. This allows you to easily demonstrate the increased efficiency of the new servers against older platforms. If you know your kWh cost and how long you intend to keep the server, the tool will also do some simple Total Cost of Ownership calculations so you can see any potential power savings over the lifetime of the server.
The superior scalability and efficiency of HP ProLiant G6 and G7 servers is such that it’s worth taking some time to review your standard configuration when you upgrade to these latest platforms. We’d always recommend some performance testing with the new servers to ensure that the new specification can handle its given workload in your environment and the sizers and benchmarks on hp.com will help to steer you towards an appropriate platform and configuration. Using these resources with the HP power calculators will enable you to build a new configuration platform that is both scalable and efficient for your future needs.