HP quadruples virtual machines in new blade

HP says the new ProLiant WS460c Gen8 blade server adds server efficiency and cuts operational costs

Hewlett-Packard is set to deliver a new blade that will quadruple the virtual desktops that can be deployed from one server compared to the company's previous offerings.

The HP ProLiant WS460c Gen8 blade server uses graphics processors to deliver virtual desktops, but adds a layer of virtualization on top of the GPUs to expand the number of virtual clients deployed from servers to client devices, said John Gromala, director of product marketing for Industry Standard Servers and Software at HP.

Virtual desktops are typically delivered to remote devices so that they can access centralized data and applications residing on the servers. An increasing number of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are being used for work, and there is more desire for workers to access enterprise data and applications beyond calendars, Gromala said.

Deploying more virtual desktops helps reduce the cost per virtual client by 60 percent while boosting work efficiency, Gromala said. The company is working with Nvidia in order to deliver more virtual clients, but did not talk about the technology being deployed.

The HP blade will harness the parallel processing capabilities of graphics processors, which will help enable the delivery of high-definition images to virtual clients. The GPUs will also be able to remotely execute specific multimedia and engineering applications faster than CPUs, which are typically more adept for everyday tasks and running single-threaded applications.

The server is able to carry up to eight graphics processors, a greater number than its predecessor, the ProLiant WS460c G6. Each blade system can support multiple users using either Citrix or VMware GPU pass-through technology, for which Nvidia collaborated with Citrix and VMware to integrate into hypervisors. The blade supports Intel Xeon E5-2600 CPUs and Nvidia Quadro 3000M, 1000M, 500M as well as the Quadro 6000, 5000 graphics processors.

Nvidia has also been working on a virtualization technology called VGX, in which the GPUs are virtualized so tasks can be shared across multiple GPUs and CPU computing threads. With VGX technology, graphics cards can bypass CPUs and deploy virtual desktops directly. Nvidia has built memory-management capabilities into GPUs for direct deployment of virtual machines. The virtualization technology is supported on the Grid K1 and Grid K2 boards, and could come to Quadro chips in the future.

HP has also announced the new BladeSystem c7000 Platinum chassis, which delivers 40 percent more bandwidth than its predecessor, released in 2006. The chassis will host HP's C-class blades.

The chassis uses a slew of new networking and fabric technologies to deliver the improved bandwidth. The larger pipe shuttles data faster and also helps balance workloads more effectively in data centers to ensure servers aren't overloaded, Gromala said. The new chassis also provides for more storage bandwidth compared to its predecessor.

The enclosure also provides 3-D imaging capabilities of racks in a data center, Gromala said. The HP Systems Insight Manager server management software will be able to identify the location of a rack, which helps control various operations. It tracks IT assets and effectively manage and maintain systems, and saves hours of manual tagging of servers. It also helps improve power management and capping of servers in a data center.

"We can even track down the power topology," Gromala said.

The HP ProLiant WS460c Gen 8 blade is priced starting at US$5,037, while HP BladeSystem c7000 Platinum enclosure will be priced starting at $4,999. Both products will be available worldwide next month.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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