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ScaleMP scales up to 128 nodes

The 128 node, 64TB virtual SMP

VM-on-VM action

In addition to the new vSMP, ScaleMP is rolling out a tech preview of a capability it calls VM-on-VM. Yup, you guessed it. You spend all this dough to aggregate servers, and then you spend some more to buy hypervisors to carve them back up again. The idea is a replay of the SMP argument, but done for server virtualization. Buying bigger and more expensive boxes cram more VMs onto a single physical box is what a lot of companies are doing, and the rising average selling prices for servers reflect this.

So rather than buy a lot of fat boxes and run them at a certain utilization, you buy a larger number of cheaper two-socket boxes and make a virtual SMP on the fly when a fat VM is actually required. You get out of buying extra capacity for peaks and creating it on the fly from a pool of resources when you need it. No word on what kind of overhead it takes to run KVM or Xen atop the vSMP hypervisor, as ScaleMP is initially supporting, but that's what the tech preview is all about: figuring out the overhead and the issues.

vSMP Foundation 3.0 is in beta right now at selected customers. The code will be generally available on June 14 for configurations supporting up to 32 nodes. Three Nehalem-EX systems will certified to run vSMP 3.0 on day one. Dell, which already resells the prior releases, and IBM are talking ScaleMP right now about how they might use the code, and Hewlett-Packard and Oracle have expressed some interest. (Personally, I think Amazon should use it to make proper SMPs on its EC2 cloud. For all I know, it already does). The VM-on-VM feature is expected to be ready by the middle of summer this year, and support for between 32 and 128 nodes is expected by the end of the third quarter.

vSMP Foundation 3.0 costs $2,500 per node; a special HPC variant costs $1,700 per node. There is also a vSMP Foundation for Cloud Edition aimed at service providers who want to be able to make virtual vSMPs out of pools of thousands of server nodes on the fly that costs $50,000 for a base license plus $500 per node under management. This cloud edition has the same scalability limits for a vSMP, it just has tools and the license to span a lot more iron and to do so more cheaply. ®

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