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Hardware vendors aim to cut costs with new Xeon

IBM, HP, Dell building low cost Xeon servers

The world’s top server vendors updated their product lines, launching new servers to coincide with the release of Intel’s next-generation Xeon processors.

IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell said their new low-end and midrange servers will be their fastest to date, dwarfing earlier products that ran on Intel-based chips. The servers will include Intel’s latest Xeon 5500 quad-core series chips, which boosts overall server performance while drawing much less power.

“This is the largest increase in performance in the history of Xeon product line,” said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager, server platforms group at Intel.

HP and Dell said the chips double server performance while consuming 50 per cent less power than their predecessors. Nehalem’s microarchitecture design improves data throughput by cutting bottlenecks that plagued older chips.

The new servers reflect a trend of cutting data-center costs while delivering performance gains via faster chips and virtualization, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“These issues line up pretty well with enterprise customers’ overriding concerns about the fragile economy and needing to quantify the economic value of the IT products they plan to buy,” he said.

Chip improvements should allow servers to execute more tasks in virtualized environments, which should consolidate servers in smaller spaces in data centers. That could also help cut additional overhead costs per server, including energy and hardware acquisition costs.

Close to nine servers with Xeon processors can consolidate into one Nehalem-based quad-core Xeon server, Intel’s Skaugen said. HP officials said that close to 24 single-core servers could be merged into one quad-core Xeon server.

Manufacturing company Emerson is looking to merge about 140 data centers into just a couple of centers by reducing the number of servers, said Stephen Hassell, vice president and chief information officer, during a Dell press conference last week. He said the company merged 18 old servers into one Nehalem-based Dell PowerEdge server, while reducing the server footprint by up to 50 per cent.