Feeds

IBM shoots higher and lower with x86 Flex Systems

Plus: Expansion node for GPUs, flash, and other goodies

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Adding in GPUs, flash drives, what else?

This expansion node is only supported on the new Flex x220 node using the Xeon E5-2400 processor and the existing Flex x240 node using the Xeon E5-2600 processor. The expansion connector on the x220 and x240 nodes hangs off of the second processor socket in these machines, so you have to have both Xeon E5 CPUs installed in the node to use the PCI expansion chassis.

An interposer cable runs from the server node to the expansion node, which then links into a PCI-Express 2.0 switch on the board. This switch has two x16 links to two mezzanine I/O ports for extra I/O into the backplane of the Flex System chassis; it also has two x16 links and two x8 links to peripheral slots.

Note: These do not run at PCI-Express 3.0 speeds, which basically double the bandwidth over PCI-Express 2.0 slots, and the mezz cards in the expansion node will also run at PCI-Express 2.0 speeds. You can plug in PCI-Express 3.0 cards and run them in 2.0 mode, however, which will impede performance in many cases.

In any event, you have two full-height, full-width PCI-Express x16 slots on the left and two low-profile x8 slots on the right. There's enough power in the card to support four low-profile, two full-height, or one double-wide PCI-Express peripherals in each expansion node.

Physically, you should be able to get two x16 peripherals and four x8 low-profile peripherals in the node. There's only room, power, and cooling for one Nvidia Tesla M2090, which is not a lot, but you can use the other two low-profile slots on the other side with one M2090 in there.

Four Xeon E5s in a double-wide pod

The Flex System x440 is the x86 companion to the Power7-based p460 node, and it uses the Intel C600 chipset and the two QuickPath Interconnect ports per socket to glue four of them together into a shared memory box that can handle much larger workloads than the two-socket variants can.

IBM Flex x440 node

The Flex x440 double-wide, quad-socket server node

IBM is supporting the versions of the Xeon E5-4600 processors with four, six, or eight cores in the box, and it looks like IBM is supporting all eight possible options processor-wise, which is something that it probably would not be able to do in a BladeCenter machine because of the skinniness of the blades. (Oddly enough, you could get the same seven four-way servers into the same 10U space.)

The Flex System x440 machine has a dozen memory slots per socket like other E5-4600 machines to deliver up to 1.5TB of memory capacity using 32GB load-reduced DIMM (LRDIMM) DDR3 memory sticks. The machine needs a lot of space for the processors and memory, and therefore it only has room for two 2.5-inch disk drives instead of the four you might expect.

IBM no doubt expects customers to use Storwize V7000 disk arrays for application and systems software storage and only use local disks for the server node operating system (if that). In many cases, customers will just put flash storage in these bays to boost I/O performance and leave everything on external disks.

Internals of the Flex x440 server node

The machine has two Emulex BE3 LOM interfaces, each with two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports, on the motherboard, and if you don't want to use the integrated 10GE ports you can buy a variant of the machine without them (presumably at a lower cost).

The server node has four mezzanine cards that link the server to the midplane of the chassis and then out to the integrated switches. Each mezz card has one x16 and one x8 connection running at PCI-Express 3.0 speeds. The same flash kit that is available for the x220 node is also available on the x440 node, but it will not be available until October 18. The x440 itself ships on August 24.

The two Flex System nodes can run Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and 11. VMware's ESXi 4.1 Update 2 and ESXi 5.0 Update 1 hypervisors are also supported on the nodes. Pricing information was not available at press time for the new iron. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first
Researchers test 802.15.4 and find we know nuh-think! about large scale sensor network ops
Turnbull should spare us all airline-magazine-grade cloud hype
Box-hugger is not a dirty word, Minister. Box-huggers make the cloud WORK
SanDisk vows: We'll have a 16TB SSD WHOPPER by 2016
Flash WORM has a serious use for archived photos and videos
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
Do you spend ages wasting time because of a bulging rack?
No more cloud-latency tea breaks for you, users! Get a load of THIS
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.