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IBM racks up the memory

And we cue up our camera


VMworld Video Blog While wandering the floor at the recently concluded VMworld 2010, we stopped by the IBM booth to take a look at their wares. We ran into an old pal of ours, Bob Zuber, and he walked us through their MAX 5 memory extension feature.

IBM racks up the memory

MAX 5 is essentially a separate board with 32 DIMM sockets that can be attached to either a four- or eight-socket IBM server via the Intel QPI (Quick Path Interconnect) and IBM’s own proprietary scalability interconnect. (X-Architecture is their fancy name for the custom chips that enable it.)

It’s interesting technology in that the entire memory space, including the memory on the MAX 5 board, is seen as a single large memory space and is usable by any VM running on the system. IBM says that systems with MAX 5 address the biggest problem in large-scale virtualization today: an acute shortage of memory.

According to the company, there are a lot of benefits that arise from using MAX 5 other than just running more VMs. Customers can save money on memory by purchasing a MAX 5 board and more lower-capacity (and lower cost) DIMMS.

They also make the case that software customers might save on software costs – assuming that the software in question is licensed by the socket – and that the extra performance yielded by more memory means they don’t need to move the packages to bigger systems. To me, this is more of a corner case; I don’t know how often this alignment of the stars happens in the real world.

What I am sure about is that flash memory is really fast. Bob shows us how they’re adding big heaps of flash memory to their systems – up to 16 SSDs in 50 or 200GB chunks. That’s quite a bit of speedy flash indeed. ®

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