RealTime IT News

Energy Efficiency Key to Dell's New Servers

Who's got the most energy efficient servers? With all the competing claims it's hard to say, but add Dell to the growing list of server makers looking to make that claim.

Today Dell  unveiled two additions to its PowerEdge server line that require less power and sport better performance per watt than comparable models in the PowerEdge Line. Specifically, Dell said the new servers offer 25 percent greater performance per watt while reducing power consumption by 20 percent.

Dell's PowerEdge Energy Smart 1950 and 2950 models, priced at $2,449 and $2,619 respectively, cost $100 more than comparable 'non-Energy Smart' servers. But Dell said the new models can save as much as $200 in energy costs over the first year of use.

"These two new servers are complementary, they don't replace any servers in our lineup," Jay Parker, director of PowerEdge servers at Dell told internetnews.com. "Energy Smart products are relevant to some but not all our customers. Those who want absolute best performance or where power usage isn't a big priority, can stick with [the non- Energy Smart] servers."

That said, Parker acknowledged there's been strong customer demand for more energy efficient systems and he expects Dell to broaden its Energy Smart portfolio of products significantly in the coming year.

"IT managers are being asked to add more server capability in the data center either to run more applications or because their business is growing, or both," said Parker. "But they don't have the flexibility to add more power to fuel them."

The Energy Smart features actually first appeared in models of Dell's corporate desktop line (Optiplex 740 and 320) released in September. These include low-flow fan technology, high efficiency power supplies and factory integrated BIOS , as well as what Dell said is unique component design specs for increased efficiency and airflow. For the new servers, Intel's Xeon 5100 is also more energy efficient than its predecessors.

Parker said he "wouldn't rule out" adding AMD-based servers to Dell's Energy Smart line in the future.

The two Energy Smart models run on the low voltage, 2.3GHz Intel Xeon 5100 "Woodcrest" processor, which is also available in non-Energy Smart models.

But Parker points out significant energy savings, noting that a small data center with three racks of servers could switch to Energy Smart models, add an additional fourth rack of servers and not incur any additional power requirements or costs.

"Historically the industry has been designing servers for power to be an outcome, not an objective. It's been more of a tradeoff of performance and cost," said Parker. "But we've made power [conservation] an objective, and from a Dell perspective, we want to widen the gap between what we can offer in this area and our competitors."

If Dell wants to establish itself as the energy efficiency leader, it faces stiff competition. IBM, HP, Sun and others have major investments in improving the energy efficiency of their systems.

Just last week, HP unveiled technology called Dynamic Smart Cooling which tracks and adjusts airflow and cooling in data centers. DSC isn't expected to be widely released until next summer.

Parker touted Dell's factory direct model and that its new Energy Smart servers are available now.

For perspective on the impact of energy saving features, Dell said that if its Energy Smart technologies had been implemented on all the Optiplex desktops it sold in the past year, enough electricity could have been saved to avoid some 12.5 million tons of CO2 emissions. Dell equated that tonnage to taking 2.5 million cars off the road.