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IBM slashes prices on Opteron 6100 racker

Freebie CPUs and a server discount

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IBM was late to the Opteron 6100 party last year, behind rivals Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Acer. But Big Blue did put a compact machine in the field crammed with lots of cores, and it does want to sell them.

To that end, IBM is offering customers a pretty sweet deal on its System x3755 M3 server, which debuted back in August and is the only – yes the only – machine that Big Blue has put in the field using Advanced Micro Devices' 12-core "Magny-Cours" Opteron 6100 processors. IBM has not launched new blade servers based on Opteron chips for several years now, and does not support Opterons in its bladish-racish hybrid iDataPlex machines, either.

The System x3755 M3 is, nonetheless, a competitive Opteron 6100 machine. It comes in a 2U chassis and uses a four-socket motherboard with 32 DDR3 memory slots. IBM originally supported AMD's twelve-core Opteron 6172 (running at 2.1GHz), eight-core Opteron 6128 (2GHz), and eight-core Opteron 6134 (2.3GHz) processors, which are 80 watt parts, in the System x3755. Customers can also use the eight-core 1.8GHz Opteron 6124 HE (short for highly efficient, and rated at 65 watts) low-voltage chip or the top-end Special Edition (SE) part, the 12-core Opteron 6176 SE running at 2.3GHz.

The company is now supporting the slightly faster Opteron 6100 processors that AMD announced in February, and it looks like the price cuts that IBM is offering on a specific configuration are designed to blow out inventory.

Last August, IBM initially only supported 4GB and 8GB memory sticks with the machine, but is now supporting 16GB sticks in the machine. The box has room for eight 3.5-inch disks and does not support a larger number of 2.5-inch or 1.8-inch disk drives likes its other rack brethren in the System x lineup. The company blessed the System x3755 M3 as a possible node in its prefabbed Intelligent Cluster setups last October.

IBM System x3755 M3

IBM's System x3755 M3 Opteron 6100 server.

To help move the older System x3755 M3 machines out of its warehouses and into corporate data centers – particularly companies looking for fat and cheap nodes for HPC clusters or to host virtual machine hypervisors – IBM is offering a 25 per cent discount without any haggling to customers who buy the base box and then tossing in two more processors on top of that. The deal only applies to customers who buy System x3755 M3 machines configured with the 12-core Opteron 6172 processors (2.1GHz).

In a base configuration, this machine comes with two Opteron 6172 processors and four 4GB memory sticks; it costs $8,415. So under this discount deal, chop $2,104 off that price and then take two Opteron 6172s on top of that, for which IBM charges $1,249 a pop. That works out to a 42.2 per cent discount – the kind big shops get after haggling a bit.

IBM clearly expects customers to use that $4,602 in savings to build out the machine, of course. It costs $319 per 8GB stick to add memory to this machine, so ripping out those 4GB sticks and putting in 32 of the 8GB sticks will cost a net $9,452. Adding eight 600GB SAS disks (which spin at 15K RPM and cost $629 each) slaps on another $5,032 at list price, or adding eight 1TB SATA disks (which spin at 7,200 RPM and cost $329 each) costs $2,632.

Go with the cheaper option on the disks and this machine – four Opteron 6172s, 256GB of memory, and 8TB of disk – would have a list price of $22,997. So that 25 per cent off plus two free processors works out, in the end, to a flat 20 per cent discount on a reasonably configured box, to $18,398.

This System x3755 M3 promotion expires on September 30.

IBM is shipping three different configurations of the System x3755 M3 using the latest Opteron 6100 processors. The economy setup has two eight-core Opteron 6140s (2.6GHz), 128GB, and no disk; it costs $23,860. The enhanced setup has four 12-core Opteron 6176 processors (2.3GHz), 192GB of memory, and no disks; it costs $31,010. And the elite configuration has four 12-core Opteron 6180s (2.5GHz), 256GB of memory, and no disks; it has a list price of $35,482. ®

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