Sunday, November 11, 2007

Intel IT (and shipping containers, Part III)

About a year ago I listened to HP discuss their consolidation plans of reducing their data centers to a few key hubs. Recently, Intel has published some of the details surrounding their consolidation plans. Brently Davis has a nice YouTube video explaining the details.

Intel also launched their new power-efficient Penryn processors today.

A little while back I received my Winter 2008 issue of Premier IT -- Intel's magazine for sharing best practices. It is a pretty nice magazine -- usually vendor magazines are 80%+ a pure marketing vehicle, but Intel's is actually quite infomative. The "Transforming Intel IT" article in this issue was particularly interesting. I continue to be hung up on the exact use of the shipping container model for data centers. I still picture trailer parks full of black boxes and fiber hooked up as if they are getting HBO. :)

I have a number of items (and links) queued up for a longer post on shipping containers, the Google patent of the modular data center, and potential (practical) uses of the container model, but for now, I wanted to point out the interesting quotes from this Intel magazine article.

The article explains that Intel is evaluating all types of innovation......

We’ve determined that our compute servers operate quite well at a higher ambient temperature than do other systems such as storage; by comparison, the storage environment requires much cooler temperatures (10 percent to 20 percent lower) and more floor space per unit. By segmenting storage systems into smaller rooms that are tuned to the specific needs of storage,
we could run the compute servers at higher temperatures, around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The second item is about containers:

The cost of building a new data center is extremely high—between USD 40 million and USD 60 million. As an alternative, we are considering placing high-density servers on racks in a container similar to those you see on container ships and trucks. We estimate that the same server capacity in this container solution will reduce facility costs by 30 percent to 50 percent versus a brick-and-mortar installation. Because it’s a small, contained environment, cooling costs are far less than for traditional data centers. Even if we build a warehouse-like structure to house the containers (thus addressing security and environmental concerns), the cost is dramatically less per square foot. In fact, the difference is so great that with this solution, brick-and-mortar data centers may become a thing of the past.
The site requires (free) registration, but once logged in, the article can be found here

Finally -- a presentation on their site for the energy efficiency opportunity had a cool slide on delivering data center optimization:

3.7 TFlops
25 racks
512 servers
1000 sq. ft
128 kW

3.7 TFlops
1 rack
53 blades
40 sq.ft
21 kW

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