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HP's 'skinless' servers designed for big data centres

HP's ExSO (Extreme Scale-Out) line is aimed at packing them in the data centre aisles. A new range of ProLiant SL servers increases density and reduces weight and power consumption.

When populating a data centre, total power supply and cooling capability can be issues. But in some situations the key problem can be finding floor space for all the gear you need to install.

The new HP ProLiant SL servers use a so-called skinless design, replacing the usual chassis and rack with a rail and tray arrangement. This is said to significantly increase system density and reduce weight, and allows the installation of up to 672 processor cores and 10T of storage in a 42U rack.

Weight can be a particular issue when data centres are created in a run of the mill office building, as the floor plates aren't designed to bear the loads that can easily be imposed by racks fully populated with blade servers.

HP claims a weight reduction of 31 percent (comparing the ProLiant SL170z with the Dell R610), which translates to 760.7 tonnes (838.5 tons) saved in an 88,000-server data centre.

Energy savings are also significant, with the power and cooling design providing a claimed 28 percent reduction in energy use compared with normal rack-based servers.

Three ProLiant SL models have been announced, each based on the Xeon 5500 processor but configured for either plenty of internal storage, high processor density, or large amounts of memory and I/O expansion.

"Customers with scale-out business models need solutions that make every dollar, watt and square foot in the data center count,” said Christine Reischl, senior vice president and general manager, industry standard servers at HP.

"The HP ProLiant SL offers pioneering customers like these the most significant design innovation since the blade form factor, allowing them to achieve an economy of scale never before possible," she added.

The ExSO range also incorporates HP services and certain previously announced data centre products.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.