Building energy efficient servers

At Jump we really like energy efficient servers. We try to encourage our customers to choose power-friendly hardware, so much so that in 2008 we changed our pricing scheme to do away with a per U or per server charge, and charged purely based upon power usage (in VA, metered at idle).

Always on the lookout for well featured power friendly hardware, my current favourite picks are offerings from Supermicro – one can mix and match components so that hot swap drive bays are available even on very small systems, and the IPKVMS (Remote over IP Keyboard Video Mouse and Storage) feature only costs around an extra £15, compared to several hundred pounds from some vendors, and Intel NICs save frustrations with operating systems which don’t include binary firmware blobs in their default installers.

With criteria of IPKVMS, sandy bridge, hot swap drive bays, and 80plus gold or better PSU, the following options are all interesting.

Jump isn’t generally in the business of hardware building or sales, although we occasionally do do this for customers, so I’ve chosen to link to and give prices from , who we have no affiliation with, and the prices are just a snapshot as of 2012-03-02, but they offer mostly the best prices I’ve seen, and are able and happy to supply Supermicro kit without opening a trade account with them. Where they’re more than a few pounds more expensive than other suppliers for a given component I’ve mentioned it.

A build will consist of a chassis, motherboard, CPU, heatsink, RAM, and HDDs. I’ve not considered HDDs here, and I’ve only considered the X9SCL+-F motherboard, which features IPKVMS and two traditional Intel GigE ports (so no need for particularly new kernels to support the NICs). I’ve only considered the smallest and largest reasonable RAM options, it is possible to use 32GB RAM, but the price is astronomical right now.

Motherboard: £139.44 X9SCL+-F
Heatsink: £20.20 SNK-P0046P (£6 cheaper elsewhere)

CPU, one of: (Cores / Threads / Frequency / Max Turbo / Range)
£24.85 G460 (1/2/1.8/na Celeron)
£31.14 G530T (2/2/2.0/na Celeron)
£48.55 G620T (2/2/2.2/na Pentium)
£46.10 G630T (2/2/2.3/na Pentium)
£84.90 i3-2100T (2/4/2.5/na Core i3)
£84.22 i3-2120T (2/4/2.6/na Core i3)
£127.53 E3-1220L (2/4/2.2/3.4 Xeon E3)
£189.03 E3-1260L (4/8/2.4/3.3 Xeon E3)

RAM, options include: (takes up to 4x unbuffered DIMMs)
£8.81 CT12872BA1339 (1x 1GB DIMM)
£42.92 CT2KIT51272BA1339 (2x 4GB DIMMs)

Chassis, one of: (* denotes Supermicro uses one of these chassis in Superserver with X9SCL motherboard / hot-swap drive bays / chassis depth / PSU)
£110.02 CSE-510T-203B 2x 2.5″ / 287mm / 80plus gold
£196.95 CSE-111LT-330CB * 4x 2.5″ / 558mm / 80plus gold (£30 cheaper elsewhere)
£201.01 CSE-113MTQ-330CB 8x 2.5″ / 508mm / 80plus gold
£378.80 CSE-113TQ-R500CB 8x 2.5″ / 597mm / 80plus platinum redundant
£179.11 CSE-813MTQ-350CB * 4x 3.5″ / 503mm / 80plus gold
£343.55 CSE-813MTQ-R400CB * 4x 3.5″ / 503mm / 80plus standard redundant

An entry level 510T-203B chassis, motherboard, heatsink, G460 CPU, 1GB RAM, comes to £303.32, just add disks.
Higher end, 813MTQ-350CB, motherboard, heatsink, E3-1260L CPU, 16GB RAM, comes to £613.62, this, plus a pair of enterprise HDDs, is what we’re using for our dedicated server hardware – and meters at 39.6VA, 176mA@231V, 31.6W, PF0.78 (with no disks, booted into Ubuntu 10.10 server).

Edited 2012-03-06:
Remove G440 CPU link (no support for speedstep so higher idle power)
comparison of above CPUs
Added max turbo boost frequencies to CPU table


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1 Response to Building energy efficient servers

  1. Mike Griffiths says:

    Very useful article, thanks.

    How noisy are these Supermicro servers, in your experience? 1U servers seem to vary between relatively quiet and jet engine at full throttle.

    If they’re towards the quieter end of the spectrum, I might replace my aging server at home with one of these.

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