Driving down server complexity with Intel manageability

Let’s face it; it’s getting harder to measure server density in rack units, and measuring by compute threads in a rack isn’t getting any easier with the core/thread counts increasing year over year.  I still remember from 12 years ago when Intel was acquiring companies who were really good at piecing together single core multi-processor systems and those systems were literally hanging from engine hoists (for demo purposes) because they were so large… I believe they had eight Intel Pentium Pro processors and 128MB of RAM. In comparison - today’s netbooks have more 4 times that amount of memory, in a base configuration.

Modern server micro-architectures have such a large increase in transistors alone, that it’s hard to equate the exponential growth in the complexity of the systems. While power must still be consumed, the same amount of power can be distributed across several cores and platforms now - which is more power efficient, but it also adds more complexity as the number of nodes increase. But just because you have more nodes, doesn’t mean that you can’t manage their efficiency.

David Ott (from the Intel Software Services Group) presents many of the provisioning/power/manageability problems at hand in the video below (5m16s), and explains how Intel is providing the 'touch points' to manage server platforms:


With the upcoming Intel Xeon 5500 Series Processors, not only do you have a high-performing platform; and in Intel fashion they’re also more power-efficient.  With the capabilities to self-throttle power usage via managed P-states per node or be managed via policies by group, time, etc.  Managing for servers isn’t new, but the way that Intel is doing it is a huge leap ahead in manageability at the node level.

So I ask:

  • What manageability tools are you using for your enterprise servers today?
  • Is Intel Node Manager on your (or your OEM's) roadmap to gather information on a ‘per server’ basis?
  • Would more discrete information enable you to run your datacenter more efficiently?
  • What manageability items do you struggle within your own datacenter, and what would you like to see in future platforms?

If Power Manageability is new to you, I highly suggest you check out Intel Dynamic Power Datacenter Manger, and if you're running a Linux based server - please check out http://www.lesswatts.org to ensure you have the latest ACPI compliant kernel.

And as a fun exit, here’s a video that we shot in one of our labs – further strengthening the need for virtualization

(and more importantly – the need for virtualized networks!)