Saving energy in the server farm is still the cause du jour of the enterprise industry, but that doesn't mean it should cut corners in its ability to process workloads.
So even while vendors continue to stress low-power models and designs, they are producing a steady stream of top-end models, as well.
IBM grabbed the spotlight recently with its Jeopardy-whiz Power 750 machine, known to the public as "Watson." Now, the company has boosted performance even more with the latest POWER7 processors aimed at conquering the highest-level analytical work. Of course, they also lend themselves to highly consolidated virtual environments, which in turn can provide both superior processing and energy efficiency for general workloads.
IBM is also boosting performance on lower-end blades like the PS701 and PS702, according to IT Jungle's Timothy Prickett Morgan. But rather than loading them with faster chipsets, the company is actually slowing them down but doubling up on cores and threads. In that way, they become more specialized for multi-process workloads or application-tier processing, while high-clocked systems are devoted to database processing.
Elsewhere, Intel's 10-core Xeon E7 architecture is gaining a strong following among Dell, HP, IBM and others. Dell is readying three new PowerEdge machines, including the four-socket R910 that clocks in at 2.4 GHz. HP is countering with four new ProLiant G7 machines featuring a scalable memory module, which IBM has new System x and BladeCenter servers ready to go. The E7s are said to provide a 40 percent speed boost over current Xeon 7500 systems.
Over in Oracle/Sun land, the action is on the new SPARC64 VII+, which has found a home in Fujitsu's new M3000. The quad- or dual-core machine boasts a 20 percent improvement in clock speed, now rated at 2.86 GHz, plus internal solid-state memory that can leverage Oracle's Database Smart Flash Cache technology to bolster I/O throughput for heavy transactional environments.
While it's true that the vast majority of enterprise productivity gains of the past decade were due to virtualization, cloud computing and other changes higher up the stack, these trends were all driven by improved processing environments.
It may be fashionable to tout the mantra "do more with less," but it's also true that you can do more with more.