IBM punts two racks, a blade, and a hybrid thingy
Enterprise avant garde
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.
Next page: A closer look
To the HP bigot
Actually I am not an IBMer, I am a customer - Major engineering company with over 1500 blades, all converted to IBM after a disasterous year with HP blades - over heating, drive failures, backplane failures (passive backplanes my butt !!) but what erked me the most was unethical sales practices by our HP rep. We had enough and turfed them out - you will soon see. If there's FUD out there, it's all HP. Like I said, it took HP 3 tries and 5 years to get to where IBM was 5 years ago. If you 've seen the NDA then you know you will have to rip and replace all your existing infrastructure in the next 18 months. Good luck
Re: Last page for response to Anonymous
Just to clarify the Itanium situation. Last readmap I saw had Itanium going for at least another 3 generations last IBM roadmap I saw had Power 6+ and didnt even mention 7 and that was 2 months ago! Oh and lets bring some real world economies into this, do you know how much it costs to start making a new processor design including new fab technology and R&D about 2 billion! Unfortunately Intel are VERY good at manufacturing processors and making it pay, to be brutally honest I dont think IBM can afford to stay in the game for much longer, particularly as their last balance sheet showed them making a loss in their microchip business!
Oh and INTEL dont care about MS products (well other than SQL) because they have Oracle, SAP etc on their side (just look at the licensing to see how unfair it is when trying to size for an IBM system) last one we did on our systems showed that just by moving from Power 6 to Itanium we would save 30% in licenses for our Oracle and at Oracles prices thats enough to pay for the hardware! As for performance dont go there, your just showing yourself to be the script kiddie you really are, as far as your concerned its all about MHz isnt it ...................... tit!
Anonymous - Get real and get your facts straight
Oh look an IBM salesgrunt! Either that or a user who is so far up IBM's a*se everything looks blue.
Well let me tell you mr IBM salesperson. I work for quite a large company who until recently was predominantly IBM. That is until we came to refresh time and started looking around to see what else there was.
I dont have time to address all of you "facts" but lets take a few and see how wrong you are.
"2) you want 16 blades for max density- sacrifice redundancy as each blade has only one connection for power and I/O to the midplane"
WRONG! You see what you fail to understand is that the midplane on a HP is passive which means there is nothing on it to go wrong, all of the components are in seperate modules easily accesible out the back. What happens if an IBM midplane has some of its components short out, oh sure there is redundancy but like when it happened to us you end up having to have the whole midplane replaced which means taking everything in the chassis down thats before you loose half of your I/O to every single blade in the chassis!
"6) Virtual Connect - proprietary, and 3 times the cost of IBM's Open Fabric manager"
You see this is the one that makes me think you are an IBM employee. Virtual Connect is an end point on the network, that means any networking device sees it as a NIC or HBA, the only thing proprietary about it is the HP badge on the front and the fact that IBM didnt think of it!
"7) Noise level - OUCH for HP, 68-72 decibels, IBM as low as 60."
Whats wrong you running a yoga class in your DC or something? Of all the complaints about kit this has to be the lamest ever!
"9) HP blades have thermal issues with memory dimms (run at 98degrees)
10) Oh and what idiot installs a hard drive on top of a heat sink (surely you gest !!!!)"
Ah the old power and thermals. Well all I can say is that our DC runs about 2 degrees cooler now that we chucked that BladeCentre rubbish out, oh and HP actually give us real time data on our power and thermal unlike IBM's guesstimate, which is quite useful when I have to talk to our facilities people!
"12) IBM did not announce the higest Nehalem speed bin and NEITHER DID HP"
Sorry just ordered it!
"13) Latest rumour that HP is coming out with yet another chassis design within the next 12 months once again adhereing to their RIP AND REPLACE strategy"
Ive seen the NDA, I would be very very worried if I was IBM!
Oh congratulations by the way on cutting and pasting IBM sales FUD, they really are masters of the brown stuff arn't they. If only they put as much effort into their products they wouldnt have to slag everyone elses off!