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New Opteron systems for IBM

Big Blue's big announcement

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At a press event in New York, IBM announced new AMD Opteron processor-based servers for its System x and BladeCenter product lines.

The portfolio of five new systems is based on the next generation of Opteron processors and is targeted at business performance computing, eg, general business needs, such as business intelligence, enterprise resource planning, etc, by leveraging IBM's Enterprise X-Architecture to bring mainframe-inspired capabilities and other high-end technology to the company's x86-based server products.

The latest offerings can deliver up to 21 per cent greater performance within the same power envelope as previous Opteron-based offerings from IBM.

Key features of the new systems include: energy-smart solutions that optimise power consumption at the chip, systems, and software levels; a "snap-in" scalable blade server that can double processing capacity in seconds; and IBM Xcelerated Memory Technology to remove bottlenecks and to speed up access to memory by 15 per cent.

The company also announced Cool Blue technologies which improve power utilisation and reduce energy costs through tools to accurately plan, monitor and control power consumption at the system, rack and data center levels.

The Cool Blue portfolio features IBM PowerExecutive, software that meters power usage and heat emissions and caps usage by a single server or group of servers at any given time; IBM Thermal Diagnostics, a thermal analyser to pinpoint and automatically correct heat-related issues in the datacenter through developing an inventory of temperature metrics and then applying a "most-likely scenario", automatically diagnosing thermal problems and enabling response by PowerExecutive, IBM Director, and service processors; and IBM Director and Virtualisation Engine, which provide a reduction in energy usage through server consolidation and systems management virtualisation technologies.

The new features that will be available during Q3 are: BladeCenter LS41, enterprise-class scalable two-way to four-way blade, targeting ERP, data marts, data warehouses, databases, and HPC clusters; BladeCenter LS21, enterprise-class two-way blade optimised for performance computing, targeting financial services, scientific, high-performance computing, and databases; System x3755, for mid-market, large enterprise customers, designed for scientific computing such as weather simulations and crash test analysis; System x3655, business-performance server, focused on database/ERP, business intelligence, IPTV, and Video on Demand applications; and System x3455, high-performance compute node, ideal for scientific and technical computing, database, and Linux clusters.

It is obvious that this is a big announcement; big in the number of products being offered, but also big - or more aptly wide - in its breadth and depth.

Opteron is no longer strictly new; however, this announcement serves clear notice that at least Big Blue is no longer pigeonholing the processor to the narrowly defined realm of high-performance computing applications. With all that Opteron has had to offer, this artificial limitation has always been perplexing to us; however, now that this (in our view) misguided positioning appears to be over, we are encouraged by IBM's investment in both the processor and the totality of these announced products and their embrace into the mainstream of the IBM System x and BladeCenter product lines.

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