Feeds

IBM punts two racks, a blade, and a hybrid thingy

Enterprise avant garde

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Nehalem Day IBM is looking for the new Nehalem EP-based servers to kick start its System x rack server and BladeCenter blade server business, which saw a steepening decline in sales as 2008 wound down.

Big Blue will today announce two new rack servers, a blade server, and some configurable compute and storage nodes for its avant garde iDataplex custom-made server clusters. It is interesting to note that the company will not, as yet, put a tower-style machine - the kind sometimes preferred by small and medium businesses - into the field.

IBM does a lot of its own direct sales to large enterprises, and the Nehalem machines it announces today are clearly aimed at enterprise customers. The SMB shops will get their towers soon enough, and besides, IBM almost certainly prefers that they use the BladeCenter S chassis - which runs on 120-volt power and which is designed for an office environment - instead of towers at this point in the history of computing.

"Lots of folks are going to announce hardware, and we did that too," jokes Alex Yost, vice president of BladeCenter products at IBM. Yost says that given the state of the global economy, IBM, like its competitors, are focusing as much on reducing costs related to administration of machines as well as powering up and cooling down the boxes. IBM is also keen on making it less frustrating to set up and support its x64 machines too.

For instance, the new machines all support the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), a superset of the BIOS means of setting up the iron inside a box. UEFI is backwards compatible with BIOSes. But it has a more modern user interface. It can be configured remotely. And in IBM's case, the "beep codes" that normally are used in BIOSes to tell you something is wrong are now converted into messages (available in lots of languages) that are diplayed on the Lightpath diagnostics screens on the front of the server.

The servers also include a new generation of service processor that IBM is calling the Integrated Management Module, which combines diagnostics and remote and local management of servers. This is where the extended BIOS lives. IBM has also collected more than 42 different System x and BladeCenter sites (used for patching and deploying these x64 servers) into a single tool center with just eight different tools - and all have the same look and feel.

IBM is also rolling out a tweaked Systems Director systems management tool, release 6.1, which now has a virtualization manager integrated into it. This tool can be used to manage power consumption on IBM and non-IBM x64 iron too. In addition to having lots of sensors scattered around the machines to monitor temperature and power consumption, the machines also have altimeters built in, so administration tools can take in the effects of altitude on the running of the machinery.

"This is all about telemetry," says Yost. "We have done a lot of work to simplify the task of getting the most efficiency and productivity out of the machines."

Generally speaking, Yost says that a Nehalem EP-based server will deliver about twice the performance of a two-socket Xeon DP box using "Harpertown" processors and that if you compare it to Xeon boxes from three years ago, you can get about nine times the aggregate performance in the new Nehalem two-socket machines.

Here's the significance of that comparison. Yost says that if you take 137 1U rack-mounted servers from three years ago (presumably using single-core processors), you can cram the same amount of computing capacity into a single BladeCenter chassis with 14 blade servers using Nehalem - and the return on investment for making the acquisition is about seven months just based on power and cooling costs alone.

This is clearly going to be the IBM sales pitch, and one that you will hear from all server makers starting this week. Customers moving from racks to blades tend to be interested in consolidation, and that often means virtualizing the servers. But Yost says there are some customers who replace servers on a one-for-one basis as they upgrade, and they are not interested as much in using virtualization to drive down power and cooling costs and server footprints as they are packing a lot more performance into the same thermal envelope.

Now, let's take a look at the new IBM iron, starting with the two rack servers, then move onto the blade and then finish up with the iDataplex nodes.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next page: A closer look

More from The Register

next story
729 teraflops, 71,000-core Super cost just US$5,500 to build
Cloud doubters, this isn't going to be your best day
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
SAVE ME, NASA system builder, from my DEAD WORKSTATION
Anal-retentive hardware nerd in paws-on workstation crisis
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
Cray heaves out even mightier, Lustre-ous Sonexion 2000
Met Office and Los Alamos bomb boffins are apparently among its fans
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.