peasIn this article in today's (Oct 16, 2007) Wall Street Journal, Ben Worthen writes about the war of words over fan noise (subscription required). IBM says its servers are quieter to operate than the louder HP servers. HP tried to defend their product saying that sound of fans isn't a big customer decision criteria.

Loud fans run fast, consume electricity to cool the hot servers which waste energy and contribute to global warming not to mention the higher cost of operation.

 Having been a small business/startup owner of server gear for the past decade, I can attest to the pain of the "fan roar." Sure you should put the servers in a server closet, but sometimes the open office concept or the basement-turned-into-startup-office doesn't have one. My experience and my complaints have been against manufacturers of 1U and 2U servers – IBM, manufacturers of 1U IP PBXs – 3Com and more recently the 1U email integrity appliances by Sendio. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Apple Mac Mini. This most elegant device is tiny. Quiet. It's a joy to own. It's serving you this page right now.

More recently, I was in a briefing with the CEO of a high definition manufacturer last week and when he showed me his latest appliance (see blog entry next week) I noted the 2 fans in the cigar-box-sized device. I lamented that the roar would be a disappointment. He corrected me, saying that there were 2 fans so they could run slower and therefore quieter. Excellent.

Another winner in the audio game (fast fans are loud, energy wasteful and suggest poor design of thermodynamics) is the Digium 'crayon box' appliance.

Noise matters. Electrical consumption matters. Quiet is better. 

Here's the IBM video clip proving their competitive points. 

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