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Fujitsu goes dense with Nehalem blades

It's a dynamic cube

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Who's been left off the support list?

The BX920 S1 compute blade is a two-socket, half-height server that supports the quad-core Nehalem EPs 60 watt, 80 watt, and 95 watt variants (but not the 130 watt top-end part). These chips include quad-core Nehalems running at between 2 GHz and 2.93 GHz as well as the dual-core E5502, which is the entry chip in the Nehalem lineup.

The BX920 S1 blade is based on Intel's "Tylersburg" 5520 chipset, just like all the other Nehalem EP gear out there, and sports only nine DDR3 memory slots - six on the first CPU socket and three on the second CPU socket. So we can now see where Fujitsu has cut to get that extra density, with only 72 GB of maximum main memory on the BX920 S1 blade compared to HP's BL280c and BL460c Nehalem blades, which pack 96 GB of memory onto the blade using 8 GB DIMMs.

The BX920 S1 blade has integrated SATA and SAS RAID controllers, two 2.5-inch drive bays (which can sport 36 GB, 73 GB, and 146 GB drives today and 300 GB drives starting in June on the SAS side as well as 120 GB drives and solid state disks on the SATA side), two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and two mezzanine card slots (PCI-Express 2.0 x8 slots, to be precise) that can be used to, among other things, link out to InfiniBand switches. (The BX900 chassis is the first Fujitsu blade server to support InfiniBand, which the BX600 did not).

Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, and Red Hat's Enterprise Linux 5 have been certified to run on the blade, as have been VMware's ESX Server 3.5 and 4.0 hypervisors. Fujitsu says it will support other Linuxes "on demand," so if you want Ubuntu, you can ask for it. Solaris 10 is mysteriously missing from the support list.

What is also missing from the support list is Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processors within the new Primergy BX900 series of blade servers, and Duran says there are no plans right now to support Opterons in the BX900 lineup. Fujitsu did eventually support Opterons in the BX600 blade machines in the dual-core Opteon generation a few years back, but has not been updating for quad-core "Barcelona" or "Shanghai" chips.

While Fujitsu is not announcing a high-end blade today, Duran said that a four-socket blade based on Intel's forthcoming "Nehalem EX" eight-core beast, presumably to be sold as the Xeon 7500, will be available in the first quarter of 2010. The Nehalem EX blade will be called the BX960 S1, and its salient features are not being provided now. But it stands to reason that it will be a full-height blade with lots of DDR3 memory slots, with probably up to 192 GB of memory per blade if Fujitsu doesn't have to cut back on memory to jam nine blades into the BX900 S1 chassis.

The other blade that was announced by Fujitsu today was the SX940 S1, a storage blade that puts four 2.5-inch SAS drives into the same space as a BX920 S1 blade. It is designed to be directly attached to the BX920 S1 blade, but includes its own RAID disk controller sporting RAID 1, 5, and 6 data protection. With 300 GB SAS drives available in June, Fujitsu will be able to get 1.2 TB of capacity into one of these blades. Because of power constraints, the BX900 S1 chassis can support a maximum of six SX940 S1 storage blades.

Blade servers are not just about serving and storing. They also have integrated switching. Fujitsu is rolling out its own 36-port Gigabit Ethernet switch as well as an 18-port Fibre Channel switch (a re-badged Brocade 5450) that links out to eight SANs. Up to eight of the Ethernet swiches and four of the Fibre Channel switches can be plugged into the chassis.

Fujitsu is also reselling InfiniBand switches made by Mellanox for the NX900 S1 chassis, but the feeds and speeds of these switches were not available at press time.

As for Fibre Channel-over-Ethernet converged switches, Fujitsu has a plan but is not ready to talk products yet. "FCoE is interesting, and every vendor is talking about it," says Duran. "But while the technology is plausible to use today, a lot of vendors are not going to be able to use it until it consumes less power. It will be later in the year, when the technology is improved, when you will see an FCoE offering from Fujitsu for blades."

The blades and the chassis for the Dynamic Cube are all available starting today in Europe, North America, and Asia. In the United Kingdom, the BX900 S1 chassis has a £5,106 list price, and a BX920 S1 blade without anything on it lists for £1,051. Adding in two dual-core Nehalem chips, 4 GB of memory, and two 73 GB SAS drives boosts the price of the blade to £2,455.

The SX940 S1 storage blade costs £2,383 with four 146 GB disks and the RAID 5/6 controller slapped into it. ®

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