IBM servers run cool to woo Web 2.0 crowd

Big Blue's iDataPlex appeals to Web companies with liquid cooling for lower energy costs and cloud-computing software.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica

It's the confluence of the two hip tech trends: "green" IT and cloud computing.

IBM on Wednesday detailed its iDataPlex servers aimed at Internet companies that need compute power on-demand but also want to keep a lid on electricity costs.

They pack more than double the number of servers in a typical rack while using 40 percent less electricity.

Thermal imaging shows how hot (red) a server rack can run compared to a liquid-cooled (blue) iDataPlex server rack. IBM
To keep power costs down, IBM uses liquid cooling, which will allow servers to run at room temperature without costly, and often inefficient, air conditioners.

The systems allow people to create a pool of computing resources, rather than have specific servers tied to applications--the typical way of configuring servers that keeps most server capacity unused.

IBM said the iDataPlex is aimed at Web companies that need rapid scalability to serve consumer applications, such as search and online gaming.

Vendors are in a race to provide the on-ramp to cloud computing for start-ups and established Web companies. In addition to scalability, they need ways to cap rising energy and real-estate costs.

"iDataPlex will help to fuel this growth by erasing some of the inhibitors holding Web 2.0 back--namely the amount of space and energy required to serve content to more and more end users," Ann Winblad, co-founder and a managing director of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, said in a statement.

IBM and partners talk about the close link between Web application growth and energy usage.
(Credit: IBM)