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IBM woos Microsoft with iDataPlex oddity

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Never one to miss out on a marketing opportunity, IBM has already started tweaking the new iDataPlex system to reach more customers before the box has even started shipping.

IBM "launched" iDataPlex in April, ushering in a server designed just for large service providers and high performance computing customers pressed for space and power. But the slick kit has been tough to find. For example, intrepid Reg special correspondent Chris Hipp discovered IBM showing off a cardboard cutout of iDataPlex instead of the real thing during a recent conference. And a couple of potential customers we've talked to have complained about IBM's reluctance to send along information about the iDataPlex units.

In fairness, IBM only promised to start shipping the iDataPlex units in July, so that might explain the product's MIA status. What's tougher to explain is IBM's current taunting of those customers desperate to get their mitts on the missing machines.

IBM today bragged that Microsoft has selected iDataPlex as a test platform for Windows HPC Server 2008 - the cluster-flavored version of Windows. We're sure that IBM is doing all it can to please Microsoft, hoping to weasel its way into some of those massive data centers going up around the world.

In addition, IBM revealed that it's already upgrading the not shipping iDataPlex.

Apparently, there's a new high performance computing option called the iDataPlex DX360 HPC server, which has the latest and greatest quad-core Xeons and software from ScaleMP.

ScaleMP is one of the windmill people that has some super, super slick software for turning groups of low-end x86 machines into high-end SMPs (symmetric multi-processors).

The not shipping iDataPlex will also now ship with "InfiniBand switches from Voltaire and QLogic, InfiniBand adapters from Mellanox, Fiber Channel adapters from Emulex, and 10G Ethernet switches from Blade Network Technologies, SMC, Cisco and Force 10."

We guess those networking companies ate up all the early units for testing.

Anyway, the iDataPlex unit is pretty sweet. You can think of it as IBM's take on Rackable's half-height, half-depth design. IBM basically created a large version of the Rackable systems and mushed together two racks' worth of gear into a single unit. Some of IBM's rivals charge that the iDataPlex system is actually an extra-wide cabinet, making it a non-standard piece of equipment, although IBM keeps telling us it's a standard box.

Unfortunately, the information on IBM's web site about iDataPlex remains pretty thin. But we're trying to hunt down a spec sheet for the Reg clan. ®

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