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Multi-core CPUs, x64 servers advance server consolidation efforts

This year, technologies such as multi-core processors and x64 servers have come to the marketplace. How can multi-core processors and x64 servers help you further your server consolidation projects?

Now you're ready to move on to the next step, which is understanding how new technologies can help in your server consolidation effort. To do so, you must examine multi-core processors and x64 servers.

Multi-core processors

Dual-core processors currently abound and it's looking like 2007 will be the year of the quad-core. Intel already offers a quad-core (although it is not a true quad-core, since it links two dual-cores on the same wafer). In this respect, it is much like the 80286 processor, which had two 16-bit processors linked to the same wafer to emulate 32-bit operation.

Advanced Micro Devices is working on delivering a true quad-core this year. AMD also guarantees that if you obtain a dual-core system today, you will be able to simply replace the processors with quad-cores when they become available—something you cannot do today with Intel processors. AMD processors also run cooler and require less power than Intel processors. In data centers that are running out of power (as well as out of air conditioning), processors that reduce consumption and maintain their cool make a lot of sense. Multi-core processors support server consolidation in that they pack more processing power into the same casing. This lets you reduce your server footprint while

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gaining processing power.

Move to 64-bit servers

Multiple cores are available for 32-bit as well as 64-bit servers. In addition, the current price point for 32- and 64-bit server-class machines is nearly identical. Both AMD and Intel offer x64 processors. But do not confuse them with IA64 or Itanium processors from Intel, which are based on a proprietary architecture. Since x64 is an extension of the x86 instruction set, it can run x86 applications natively.

The advantage of x64 systems is that they address more memory, up to 32 GB of RAM and up to 16 TB of virtual memory. Because of this:

  • These systems can manage large datasets as in-memory logical objects.
  • These systems break the 32-bit memory barrier, allowing 32-bit applications access to the full 4GB they require to run properly.
  • They are also more secure because they support Data Execution Prevention (DEP), protecting memory locations from the dreaded buffer overrun.

Although x64 servers run either x86 or x64 operating systems, you're obviously better off with a true x64 OS. You will have to upgrade some of your system utilities, but moving to x64 systems is relatively painless (see Resources). Because x64 systems make better use of memory resources, they are an excellent vehicle for server consolidation.

Conclusion

These technologies and the changes manufacturers have made in licensing make it all the more compelling to move to a server virtualization environment. But because the objective of server consolidation is to reduce server proliferation, we'll need to look at other technologies before we go any further. After all, if you just take every physical instance of your server operating systems and virtualize them, you'll end up with more server than you had before since you'll now have to manage the host operating systems as well as the guest operating systems.

Continue to Guest OS virtualization furthers cause of server consolidation

More on server consolidation:


A five-step approach to server consolidation for IT administrators
The first step in server consolidation: Cost control
Multi-core CPUs, x64 servers advance server consolidation efforts
Guest OS virtualization furthers cause of server consolidation
How to use app virtualization for server consolidation
Application virtualization: The Terminal Services killer?

Danielle Ruest and Nelson Ruest are IT professionals specializing in systems administration, migration planning, software management and architecture design. They have written several books and are currently working on the Definitive Guide to Vista Migration for Realtime Publishers as well as the Complete Reference to Windows Server Codenamed "Longhorn" for McGraw-Hill Osborne. They have extensive experience in systems management and operating system migration projects. For more tips, write to them at info@reso-net.com.

This was first published in June 2007

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