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    Wednesday
    Oct142009

    Data Center Energy Efficiency Summit

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    Today, Oct 15 2009, is the Data Center Energy Efficiency Summit, and I really want to attend, but I made a family commitment that conflicted. 

    Mission Statement: Driving Energy Efficiency – Green Operations – for Data Centers

    Earlier in the week I talked to KC Mares, and we agreed to work together on post event blog entries for those of you who could not make the summit as well.

    Also, I plan on sync’ing with others who were able to attend  to get their perspective.

    i know I’ll probably regret not making the event as I write blog posts, but family comes before work.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Oct142009

    Dell’s mini Container Data Center fits in a suitcase

    GigaOm has a video interview of Dell’s Jimmy Pike, Director of system architecture in Dell’s Data Center Solutions.

    Pike has crammed two servers running dual-core, 2.5 GHz Intel processors (Harpertown), 32 GB of memory, 4 TB of disk space for storage, a power supply, a 5-port Gigabit Ethernet Switch and even some solid-state drives into a metal box. The box consumes about 325 watts, is relatively portable and provides enough performance to act as a DNS server or a data center for a small business (although since it’s relatively portable, data theft becomes a distinct possibility.) Pike uses it to test ideas and software for clients of Dell’s Data Center Solutions’ Group, which sells custom-built servers to hyperscale computing clients such as Facebook.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Oct142009

    Apple Co-Founder, Steve Wozniak is hot for solid state storage, MySpace Case Study

    ComputerWorld has an article about Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, and he is excited about the energy savings in the data center.

    Also, I've been close to a lot of people who worked in data centers - good friends -- and it's just like data centers always have huge racks and racks of equipment. And, almost every entity in the world is basing its operations on servers and disk storage, so it's almost unlimited. So [with Fusion-io] you're not confined to one little niche.

    Now you may think what does Woz know about storage? Being ex-Apple I knew this part.

    You've never really been a storage guy. What attracted you to this technology? Well, I was a storage guy really early - in floppy disks. I don't come from the heavy-duty storage area where you've got RAID arrays and fiber optic channels. But, actually, the way I approached even designing my floppy disk structures was to take out a lot of middle man technology that wasn't needed - to look at the overall problem and get from the start to the finish in one quick jump. And, I saw those same principles had been applied in designing [Fusion-io's] product.

    The solution is not a SSD, but a PCIe card.

    Computerworld - Earlier this year, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniakaccepted the position of chief scientist at start-up solid state drive company Fusion-io. It's the first time since 1972, when he worked in Hewlett-Packard Co's calculator division, that he's held a technologist's position for a company that wasn't his own.

    Unlike many other solid state vendors, Fusion-io doesn't manufacture a NAND flash drive product in a 2.5-in. or 3.5-in hard drive form factor. The company makes PCIe cards with up to 640GB of capacity and 1.6GB/sec. throughput that can be inserted directly into servers, greatly increasing performance for I/O-intensive applications while also shrinking space requirements when compared to high-end hard disk drives.

    Fusion-iO has a press release regarding their deployment at MySpace data center.

    MySpace Uses Fusion-Powered I/O to Drive Greener Datacenters
    Technology from Fusion-io Enables MySpace to Significantly Reduce Carbon Footprint, Saving Power, Cooling and Maintenance Costs
    SALT LAKE CITY and LOS ANGELES – October 13, 2009 – Fusion-io today announced that it is working closely with MySpace to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint and costs associated with MySpace's datacenter operations. Using innovative solid-state storage solutions from Fusion-io, MySpace successfully deployed Fusion-io's technology to optimize their capital equipment and reduce the floor space and power consumed by their datacenter operations – significantly minimizing MySpace's environmental impact.
    The revolutionary new deployment by MySpace offers another example of how solid-state storage technologies from Fusion-io give today's brightest engineering teams the power to rethink their datacenters and achieve dramatically lowered capital and operational costs by optimizing existing infrastructure for increased ease of management while greening the datacenter.

    The case study PDF has more details.

    The Results
    Implementing Fusion-io gave MySpace the following benefits:
    • Provided much higher performance, improving the user experience
    • Cut hardware needs by 60%
    • Significantly reduced its carbon footprint by lowering power and cooling requirements
    • Recovered 280U of rack space
    • Improved its data center’s reliability with non-volatile, 11-bit error correcting memory, and elimination of 2300 failure points
    • Paid a much lower upfront price than for competitive solutions
    Shawn plans to replace all of the remaining 1770 2U servers with Fusion-io enabled servers as they reach their end-of-life. This will allow MySpace to recover at least 1770U of rack space in the future, eliminate at least 18,000 failure points in their system, and save millions of dollars in power and cooling costs, showing
    the world that you can make the smart business buy a green one too.

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    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Oct132009

    NYtimes - Atom and ARM server companies

    NYTtimes has a blog post on lower power mobile chips being used in Servers.

    Bits - Business, Innovation, Technology, Society

    October 6, 2009, 5:00 PM

    Servers With Cellphone Chips? Yep, Here They Come

    By ASHLEE VANCE

    If a server runs on a smartphone chip is it still a server?

    Enterprise Computing

    The era of such a deeply philosophical data center question is upon us. A pair of stealthy start-ups have placed smartphone chips at the center of their plans to create a new breed of low-power servers. They’re hoping that this radical take on data center hardware will attract the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft, which all battle energy costs on a huge scale.

    The Intel Atom based company is SeaMicro.

    SeaMicro, based in Santa Clara, Calif., has put together a server based onIntel’s Atom chip, which currently slots into things like netbooks and other mobile computing devices. Intel expects Atom to drive its cell phone strategy in the coming years as well.

    Exact details on the SeaMicro product have been tough to come by, since the company remains inside the cone of silence, but people familiar with SeaMicro’s hardware say it will pack about 80 Atom chips in a very small chassis. The company also has some proprietary hardware and software twists, these people said.

    SeaMicro is in silence mode, but here is nugget from their web site.

    At SeaMicro we believe data centers can be vastly more power efficient than they are today. To this end, we have tremendous customer support and outstanding Venture Capital backing. Our staff is comprised of experts with decades of experience and we are always looking for exceptional people who can add to our strength.

    SeaMicro is a rapidly growing technology pioneer so you will wear many hats and have opportunity to grow. We believe that working for SeaMicro will be the most exciting and challenging chapter of your career.

    The ARM based company is Smooth-Stone.

    In Austin, Texas, there lurks another start-up called Smooth-Stone. According to people familiar with its plans, Smooth-Stone is working on a chip using the ARM architecture that will go into servers. ARM chips from companies like Samsung and Qualcomm typically make their way into phones like the iPhone.

    Barry Evans, the chief executive of Smooth-Stone, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Mr. Evans worked at Intel for many years in the company’s communications and mobile products groups.

    Here is information in local papers. Austin Business Journal.

    Smooth-Stone Inc., which is a member of the Austin Technology Incubator and develops low power server technology, will receive an initial $250,000 pre-seed investment from the state with potential for $1 million in total investment for the commercialization of its technology.

    “Smooth-Stone’s innovative architecture has the potential to change the server market and keep Texas on the cutting edge of technology,” said Jack McDonald, chairman and CEO of Perficient Inc. and chairman of the Central Texas Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization.

    Barry Evans, CEO of Smooth-Stone, said the server market is catching on to what the mobile phone market has known for nearly 20 years.

    “Power consumption matters,” Evans said. “Moore’s law delivers amazing gains in server compute performance, but power and cooling challenges are now front and center. Smooth-Stone is bringing low-power mobile phone technology to servers. We are proud to partner with the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Central Texas Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization, the state of Texas and the Austin Technology Incubator to lead the push for truly green datacenters.”

    Data centers use large amounts of electricity, which some technology experts say is becoming a problem.

    “There is a tremendous amount of improvement potential in reducing data center power consumption,” said Ian Ferguson, director of Segment Marketing with ARM, a company working with Smooth-Stone on low power technology.

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Oct132009

    Intel’s “A” letter Rival – ARM, not AMD

    In data centers, the standard is go bigger with more power.  But, in the mobile market energy efficient performance is the standard, and ARM is the winner.  At some point, someone is going to build an IT infrastructure on Linux running on thousands of ARM processors. 

    People will laugh at the idea, but for the same reason IBM chose their Blue Gene supercomputer architecture, a start-up could do the same.

    The Blue Gene/L supercomputer is unique in the following aspects:

    • Trading the speed of processors for lower power consumption.
    • Dual processors per node with two working modes: co-processor (1 user process/node: computation and communication work is shared by two processors) and virtual node (2 user processes/node)
    • System-on-a-chip design
    • A large number of nodes (scalable in increments of 1024 up to at least 65,536)
    • Three-dimensional torus interconnect with auxiliary networks for global communications, I/O, and management
    • Lightweight OS per node for minimum system overhead (computational noise)[9]

    News.com goes into more detail on Intel and ARM in the mobile space.

    For Intel, small laptops bring challenge from ARM

    by Brooke Crothers

    Quick: Name an Intel rival whose name begins with an "A" and is abbreviated by three letters.

    AMD? How about ARM. Even with attention focused on the immediate impact of Intel's earnings coming Tuesday afternoon, pesky questions linger about a likely future in which U.K.-based ARM and its satellite of chip and device makers pose a growing competitive threat. Maybe more so than Intel's traditional rival, Advanced Micro Devices.

    Two recent statements from analysts argue that the camp of companies that make chips based on designs from ARM will dictate future competition in mobile computing. These companies include Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Samsung, and, in the future, Apple.

    New Tripoli, Penn.-based The Information Network said late last month that ARM processors, not Intel's Atom chip, will gain the largest chunk of the Netbook market in 2012--about a 55 percent market share. Netbooks are small, ultralight laptops typically priced under $400.

    The market research firm argues that small ARM-based laptops, dubbed "smartbooks," will thrive under subsidized services from telephone carriers "modeled after Hewlett-Packard (cheap printer, expensive ink) and the mobile service providers (cheap cellphone, expensive monthly wireless charge)."

    Note this comment on performance per watt.

    And on Monday EE Times cited analyst Didier Scemama, with ABN AMRO Bank NV, who said there is a "shift towards computing based on ARM-Linux and away from Intel-Microsoft over the next technology cycle," which he said would begin in the second half of 2010, because ARM processors would match Intel chips in performance and beat them on power consumption and possibly cost.

    The fastest growing internet companies have a sizeable Linux investment, and it would seem some are asking the question of whether they can run on an ARM-Linux platform.

    Click to read more ...