Virtualization is what was behind the big capex dollars being saved by Dell – $200 million/year – by running on 10,000 virtual servers. HP also suffered from data center sprawl with 85 data centers in 29 countries. It succeeded in boiling it all down to six new greenfield data centers with encouraging results: the number of servers are now down by 40 percent; processing power is up 250 percent; and overall data center costs have been slashed by 60 percent.


In light of recent downtime failures, Twitter is planning its first data center located in Salt Lake City, which will help it manage its exponential growth of 300,000 new users per day. Twitter is the third high-profile technology company to build a significant data center there, after eBay, Oracle Corp, and the National Security Administration. The NSA also made recent news about its $1 billion data center investment at Camp Williams in Utah to support its intelligence-gathering operations.


And on it goes. But the work is just beginning.


Market analyst Gartner has estimated that nearly a million servers could have been replaced more than a year ago but weren't. Incredulously, most organizations are unable to provide an accurate server count or even determine what software is running on those servers. To figure it out manually is timely and costly, so to determine where to generate cost savings is challenging and, thus, risky to execute them. It’s not a surprise then to find the data center world so bloated.


What is the actual server utilization at each center? Some reports indicate that typical servers are only being used ten to 15 percent of the time! The result has been to initiate the huge endeavor to consolidate and virtualize the management of data and, consequently, develop a range of cloud services.


At Intel®, its recent launch of the Xeon® 5600 processor series of multicore processors spurred on the drive for ODMs and equipment vendors to build new servers that can better justify the business case for server consolidation and virtualization. Intel says the monthly cost of not converting 50 single-core servers with three 5600-based servers is approximately $10,000 a month in software support, and utility and warranty costs.


The new Intel® Xeon® 5600 server processors offer 6 cores and can be used as the virtualization standard for enterprise private clouds. Utilizing these cores for standard server tasks allows more to get done with less. Virtualized servers are also easily re-configurable and cut down on configuration timetables.


Intel itself went through the server consolidation exercise and already has gained a 250\% increase in capability, at 60\% of the cost.  The goal is to make the upgrades pay for themselves within a year.  The Xeon® 5600 processor series feature a 7-year lifecycle support and are built for thermally constrained and robust communications environments, and can direct applications more quickly and efficiently between connected devices.


Intel® designed this Xeon with a three-prong focus – to blend security, performance and energy efficiency, all of which can significantly improve the economics of data center operations. Intel reports that one 5600 processor can replace 15 single-core servers, deliver 60 percent better performance than the Xeon 5500 and achieve a return on investment in as little as five months.


The Intel Intelligent Power Technology is what can control only what is needed for the power supply of both CPU and memory, at any particular time. This enables IT administrators to pre-set SLAs for applications that require continuous high processing and save energy for those that can afford to be run at lower frequencies.


On the virtualization front, the Intel® Xeon® processor 5600/5500 series boosts virtualization performance by allowing the OS more direct access to the hardware. Also, the Intel® Virtualization Technology2 (Intel® VT) FlexMigration enables seamless migration of running applications among current and future Intel® processor-based servers. Intel® VT FlexPriority improves virtualization performance by allowing guest OSs to read and change task priorities without VMM intervention. While the Intel® 5520 chipset Intel® VT for Directed I/O helps speed data movement and gives designated VMs their own dedicated I/O devices, thus reducing performance overhead of the VMM in managing I/O traffic.


Kontron has been in the embedded motherboard business for several years, and due to its extended experience in high-performance server IA-based ATCA blade and CPCI board products, introduced last year its first server-class embedded motherboard, the KTC5520-EATX.


This server board supports both the Xeon® 5500 and 5600 processor series, and is currently being used as a key building block for an assortment of communication infrastructure systems, including security servers, appliances, storage servers, and carrier-grade rack-mount servers. The Kontron MB design team has a vast amount of hardware, BIOS and IPMI know-how, enabling them to work with vendors to design a server board exactly to their server requirements.


An attractive selling point for network managers is the server board’s built-in ability to be fully managed remotely. Kontron uses an Integrated Management Processor (IMP) that integrates VGA/2D, BMC, and KVM/VM over IP to support real-time access with full control by keyboard, video monitor and mouse (KVM) and virtual media (VM) by a single local computer from anywhere, at any time. IPMI 2.0 compliant using IPMI over LAN, the server board provides the OS-independent and cross-platform interface for monitoring the server system’s temperature, voltage, and fan status, among other items, and permits out-of-band management even when the main processors are not powered-in. I/O features include two 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet (Intel 82576EB), 6 SATA ports (3Gb/s), Integrated VGA (BMC), and HD 5.1 Channel Audio. Expansion slots feature 1 PCIe Gen 2 x8 using (x16) slot, 3 PCIE Gen2 X8, 1 PCIe x4 using (x8) slot, and 1 PCI 32/33 5V.


The Kontron KTC5520 is instrumental in the building of robust IT platforms for virtualization, server consolidation, mission critical business and database applications. The advantage of six cores (single or dual socket) is pretty self evident in performance-intensive applications which, with the support of Intel® Hyper-Threading technology, can work with 12 threads simultaneously. Processors within the Xeon 5600 family range from a four core L5609 at 1.8GHz all the way up to a six core X5680 running a 3.33GHz.  All chips have 12MB of L3 cache regardless of core count.


With enterprises now looking to ramp up investment in server consolidation, the time is ripe for new server systems to be designed to help make data centers greener, powerful, and easier on the bottom line.