[LINK] Green web servers with netbook components
Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Tue May 19 08:45:44 AEST 2009
Last week Sean Casey from Intel talked to the ACS Victorian Branch
Green IT conference about Intel power saving CPUs. At the time it
stuck me as interesting that one chip he did not mention was the
Intel Atom. This is used for NetBooks and NetTops: cheap, low power
notebook and desktop computers. It appears that Intel would rather
you bought a more expensive higher power chip than the little Atom.
It looks like that strategy is not going to work, as according to
media reports Dell will use the same type of low-power processors
used in netbooks for its XS11-VX8 server:
The Dell XS11-VX8 server will use Via's U2250 1.3GHz "Nano"
processor, which is a competitor to Intel's Atom. This is intended
for Web hosting applications which do not need CPU intensive
computations. It may spark a new market in low power, low cost
servers both in small business and for large capacity green data centers.
The conventional thinking on servers has been high density
specialization: pack as much processing capacity as possible onto a
processing server and disk capacity into a data server and then try
to load share it efficiently. Dell's approach is similar to that used
for Google's servers, where each disk gets its own processing
The 2U rack mount case of the Dell XS11-VX8 will hold up to 12 server
boards. Each board has one Nano processor, up to 3GB of RAM, a 2.5
inch disk (or flash RAM equivalent), a SD card slot for boot software
and two Gigabit Ethernet ports.
This approach opens up the server market to companies which make PC
motherboards. There is the possibility for further simplification and
cost reduction in design. The Dell design still looks over engineered
compared to Google's servers. Dell use metal brackets and a front
panel on its server modules. Google use Velcro to hold some
components on its server and flying leads.
This approach could be applied to server modules, which could consist
of bare circuit boards, with the connectors soldered on (no metal
cabinet). The disk drives could be held on with Velcro. The modules
could be held in a Eurocard type of rack, but with no back plane
connectors, just plug in cables on the boards
Server densities have got a little silly, with ultra high density
servers requiring so much power and cooling that most data centers
cannot accommodate them. Also the amount of air which has to be
pumped through the servers increases the power consumption and makes
them dangerous to stand near, due to the noise.
Instead low cost web servers could be designed to have generous
spacing between the components. This would allow cooling with few
fans (or no fans when installed in a "hot isle" rack). These low
power servers could be placed in racks between the high power
servers, in the slots which current have to be left blank, to avoid
overloading the cooling and power systems.
For very small scale applications one server board could be held in a
snap together plastic clamshell case. Large servers do not really
need a case at all, relying on the rack mount cabinet.
Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617 http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University
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