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Recently in our test lab, we experienced a cooling failure... and I wasn't even sitting in the lab to realize it.  In fact, I wasn't in the same state!


With the recent launch of the Xeon 5500 Series servers - I have been testing some use-cases against four of our servers in our lab when I noticed that the temperature was rising pretty drastically in there.  How did I see this?  Using Intel® Intelligent Power Node Manager embeddd in our Xeon Servers and using our Intel Data Center Manager (DCM) SDK software interface - the data is presented in a visual format.

thermal trip.JPG

In the graph above, the dark colored line is the "front panel inlet" temperature, and in a matter of minutes, the temperature in the lab rose from 71F to 87F - 16 degrees!  What I didn't have setup is the scenario is a power policy that activates on a thermal trip.  Here is how you would setup this policy in Data Center Manager under the Policies section for this rack:



In the event that a thermal event occurred that would cause the room to heat up to 78F (as shown above) - Intel DCM would send the IPMI commands to the platform which in turn would tell the Node Manager firmware to throttle-back the Xeon CPUs to their lowest P-state possible.  This would reduce energy consumed across the systems in the policy group as well as reduce the thermal output of each server.  This would in turn generate less heat across the servers thereby reducing the load placed on an already overheated lab or datacenter.


This gives the server managers more time to gracefully shutdown systems, and/or move the workloads to cooler sections of the datacenter.  If you have ever experienced a cooling failure in the datacenter, it's a usually a frenzy to shutdown machines to minimize heat and/or power utilization overall.  This thermal policy can give you more time before you reach a critical temperature where you start losing components, servers and ultimately - loss of data and productivity.


Using standard the standard IPMI interface, the Data Center Manager SDK and Node Manager on the Xeon 5500 series platform enable power monitoring, power management, and front panel inlet monitoring.   This gives a server/datacenter manager the capcity to measure power usage per server, where you'd have to previously have more expensive power measurement tools.  External power meters cost anywhere from a cheap $15 to spendy $1000 - but now the technology is embedded into the firmware on the machine.


You can learn more about the Xeon 5500 Series Processors on the Intel Xeon website.

Every day in our personal lives, we’re bombarded with “opportunities” to get a better deal.  At the grocery store, we might be able to buy a single item for $2.50 or 3 for $5.00…which then forces us to go thru the mental gymnastics of figuring out how good of a deal it is, and whether or not we really need three 96 oz. bottles of salad dressing.



But there are some opportunities out there for adding a bunch of compute performance are a bit more straight-forward.


Case in point: Dell recently had Principled Technologies compare the performance for the Intel® Xeon® Processor E5520 and E5506 CPUs each running on a PowerEdge R710 server.  Both are 4 core processors, but the E5520 has many advantages over the E5506: 


  • higher frequency (2.26 GHz vs. 2.13 GHz)
  • faster QuickPath speeds (5.86 GT/s vs. 4.8 GT/s)
  • faster memory support (1066 MHz vs. 800 MHz)
  • Turbo Boost
  • Hyper-Threading support.


Long story short:  Buying a slightly better processor with a server purchase can drastically increase your performance.  So if you are looking to buy a Dell PowerEdge server configured with Microsoft SQL Server 2008* and an Intel® Xeon® Processor E5506, for an additional $300 you can get up to 75% more performance by upgrading to an E5520 CPU.  More performance headroom in a similar power envelope, faster QuickPath and memory speeds, Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost functionality – all for $300.  NOW THAT’S A GREAT VALUE!



Check out the summary document for the Dell R710 Principled Technologies performance testing, which also has comparative performance testing for the Xeon® E5540 and X5550 CPUs (also a great value for the money!), along with results for Microsoft Exchange.




NOTE:  System pricing from as of May 13, 2009.  Actual performance will vary based on configuration, usage and manufacturing variability. See the actual Principled Technology report in the following link for complete system configuration

Are you a developer writing applications to run on the Solaris operating system?. Are you looking for ways to optimize your Solaris solution on industry standard architecture based on Intel microprocessor? If you answer yes to either of these questions then please read on.


Intel and SUN have been working closely together to optimize the Solaris operating system on the Intel Xeon 5500 processor. Most of you probably know the Xeon 5500 better by its product codename Nehalem. The Xeon 5500 is the the product that fits into 2 socket platforms.


SUN have just published a very compelling quick reference guidethat will assist both Developers and System Administrators looking to optimize Solaris solutions on Xeon based processors. The guide talks about the work that Intel and SUN are doing together, technical descriptions of specific features and capabilities that can be implemented in the Solaris OS to optimize the capabilities of the Xeon.


I have just finished reading this and it is a very compelling paper covering topics such as

- How Solaris takes advantage of Intel Turbo Boost Technology to use available power headroom to deliver higher performance based on workload demand

- How Solaris can take advantage of new Intel Quickpath Interconnect (better known as QPI) and other innovations in the OS to reduce memory latency

- How Solaris performance counters help to better manage workloads

- How Solaris takes advantage of many of the power efficiency capabilities in the processor. Things like Power Aware Dispatched in Solaris enable the processor to stay longer in idle states. In non tech talk this saves power.


Solaris has been a tried and tested operating system for along time for companies running their most business critical workloads. This paper talks about the combination of Solaris and Xeon to deliver improved reliability and availability for these critical workloads. Detail information on predictive self healing, fault management, leveraging Intel Machine Check Architecture and more all included in this paper.


Probably my favourite section is around the developer tools optimizations and the different tools available for developers that want to run and optimize their applications on Solaris and Xeon.


Ok, I'll stop waxing lyrical now. This is a very compelling paper and it does certainly construe that Solaris and Xeon 5500 could be the perfect combination for your Solaris solution. What do you think?

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