Egenera speeds up and cools down its BladeFrame servers

* Egenera releases latest blade server, uses Emerson's cooling technology

Egenera last week announced its latest BladeFrame blade server and a partnership with Emerson Network Power to couple Emerson's Liebert XD cooling technology with its BladeFrame chassis.

According to Egenera, BladeFrame EX enhances the capabilities of Egenera's Control Blade, Switch Blade and BladePlane, effectively doubling the performance and Ethernet connectivity of previous BladeFrames. In tests conducted by Egenera, the Control Blade EX, with eight fabric connections, could deliver 280% better network performance and 230% better disk performance than its predecessor. The Control Blades allow support of 4Gbps Fibre Channel and 10Gbps Ethernet.

The joint offering from Egenera and Emerson is called CoolFrame. Two CoolFrame modules are added to the back of a BladeFrame. The modules are connected to the Liebert XD, which in turn connects to a data center chiller that can be located as much as 150 feet away.

Kevin Shinpaugh, director of research and cluster computing at Virginia Tech University uses Liebert's XD chilling technology.

"When we bought in our 1,100-node System 10 supercomputer, we only had an 18-inch raised floor and we were going to have 8 kilowatts per rack with 40-plus racks, so we were looking at a 320-kilowatt heat dissipation in a very small area," says Shinpaugh. "Either way we were going to have to build a new data center, raise the floor or look for something else. That's why we went with the Liebert XD equipment."

In Shinpaugh's configuration, the Liebert XD attaches to the top of the rack of servers. "As heat rises up, the Liebert sucks it through and then chill the air down and blows it out the front," Shinpaugh says.

"The advantage of a refrigerant [which the Liebert box uses] over water is that it is a phase change -- the fluid changes from a liquid to a gas -- and can dissipate more heat than water.

"With the equipment we have now, we can handle 20 to 30 kilowatts per rack. That's a lot of power," says Sinpagh. "Before getting the Liebert gear, we could do only 8 kilowatts a rack."

Adding CoolFrame to a BladeFrame EX reduces the heat dissipation of the rack to the room by as much as 20,000 watts to a maximum of 1,500 watts without impacting the performance of the 12-processor cores per square foot, according to Emerson's claims. The CoolFrame also reduces the energy costs for data center cooling by eliminating 1.5 kilowatts of fan load per rack from the room cooling system.

CoolFrame will be available by the second quarter of this year.

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