Server Snapshots: Spotlight on Unisys

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Nov 2, 2007


Most of our Server Snapshots that have focused on Unisys (Blue Bell, Penn.) have typically been about the ES7000 and the ES3000 servers. That has been the company's hotspot for much of this decade. This year, however, is different. All action has centered around the ClearPath mainframe line. The ES7000 and ES3000 haven't changed much at since the last Snapshot, which was taken back in February.

Move over ES7000 and ES3000. Unisys' focus for 2007 has been on its ClearPath mainframe line.

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"We have achieved the initial deliveries of the ClearPath NextGen platforms, which leverage Intel processor technology," Bill Maclean, vice president and general manager for ClearPath, told ServerWatch.

These new Dorado 400 (powered by the OS 2200 operating system) and Libra 400 (powered by the MCP operating system) platforms support Unisys' current entry-level to midrange client base. Their release enables Unisys clients to move current applications transparently to the new platforms. As a result of this update, the new Libra 400 series has replaced the Libra 300 series.

Unisys also introduced the new ClearPath MCP J Processor, which provides a high-performance Java run-time environment for large-scale servers in an MCP operating environment, such as the Libra Models 680 and 690. This ensures highly competitive Java performance under MCP's control and support.

"Java is increasingly important to ClearPath clients for new application development and support of service oriented architectures [SOAs]," said Maclean. "In addition, a new entry-level ePortal Business platform has been introduced, supporting Web services for ClearPath MCP applications."

The ePortal platform is an offload engine that absorbs the Web services function. It also connects ClearPath MCP applications with a variety of Web devices, including PCs and mobile phones.

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Further on the ClearPath line, Unisys has rolled out new versions of its ClearPath-based messaging platform for major wire and wireless telephony service providers. The new messaging platform models take advantage of Unisys' new AB Suite, which it labels as "advanced development technology." The idea behind the suite is to ensure faster development, generation of reliable applications and the creation of a solid foundation for SOA.

"Clients are seeking methods of protecting their solution's intellectual property while adapting to a Web-based environment," said Maclean. "Unisys investments in high performance appliances [e.g., J-processor and ClearPath ePortal], connectors, SOA reference architectures and services will allow ClearPath clients to enable SOA environments faster and with less risk."

He likes to talk, in particular, about the Libra 690. It is the medium to high-end server platforms for ClearPath MCP clients, and it includes a metered pay-for-use business model that enables a user to select a level of capacity to be used over a period of time and apply that capacity based on workload needs.

With the Libra Model 690, a user can assign processors within a partition into two processor sets: the standard processor set and a custom processor set. This enables maximization of application performance by minimizing potential processor contention issues. Users can split system performance between the standard and the Custom Processor set. This allows processors to run at different speeds within the same partition. Thus, a mission-critical application could be given the lion's share (say 500 out of 700 MIPS available), as defined in a custom processor set. Another remaining 200 MIPS could then be allocated to the standard processor set.

The 690 uses dual-core Unisys CMOS processors. Up to 32 independent partitions can be created on one system. This means the Libra 690 platform can support multiple operating environments running concurrently on these various partitions, such as Virtual Machine for ClearPath MCP (MCPvm); Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition; Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 (SLES 9); and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL 4).

Meanwhile, Unisys has been busy moving other members of its ClearPath family over to multicore Intel Xeon processors. Eventually, all Unisys servers will have a common processor architecture built around Intel technology. The new ClearPath Dorado 400 series and Libra 400 series have already undergone the processor makeover.

"Transitioning the proven OS 2200 and MCP environments onto the multicore Intel platform is a major technical achievement," says Maclean. "More importantly, it's a huge step toward realizing the Unisys vision for enterprise computing — an advanced architecture that enables clients to take advantage of emerging open standards while preserving and extending their long-term investment in strategic applications."

The Dorado 400 series has two models — 420 and 430. Both employ dual-core Xeon 7100 Series processors. The Libra Model 400, on the other hand, has the quad-core Xeon 5300 Series processors. Pricing for the Dorado starts around $200,000. Pricing for the Libra starts at around $32,000.

"By moving to the x86 architecture, new Unisys ClearPath server platforms based on Intel Xeon processors will be in step with a major trend toward x86 architecture across the worldwide server market," said Jean Bozman, an analyst with IDC (Framingham, Mass.). "The new ClearPath servers, which are being developed through a joint engineering effort between Unisys and NEC, will be able to support a wider range of operating systems and applications than traditional ClearPath systems."

ES7000

Things are quiet, however, with regard to other Unisys server offerings. The ES7000 is the model for which the company is probably most famous. It has scored well on the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) TPC-E benchmark test, the successor to the well known TPC-C benchmark. TPC-E measures online transaction processing (OLTP) performance analysis and is designed to stress a variety of hardware and software platforms that reflect a modern IT environment.

Unisys ran a series of tests on its powerful ES7000/one Enterprise Server platform in the Microsoft Windows and SQL Server environment. TPC-E reports two primary metrics for devices under test, covering performance and economic viability. Performance is measured as "transactions per second for the E benchmark" (tpsE), while economic efficiency is shown as dollars per tpsE ($/tpsE) calculated as three-year cost of ownership divided by tpsE. The ES7000/one Enterprise Server scored 660.85 tpsE and $1777.18/tpsE. This is the first TPC-E scores turned in by any server vendor.

Unisys, Close Up

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Server Family Target Deployment Processor Types Processor Range Operating Systems Servers Cost
ES7000/one ES7000 servers focus on higher-end computing needs, delivering high levels of scalability, performance and reliability 64-bit Intel Xeon processor, dual-core Intel Xeon processor 7000 series, dual-core Intel Xeon processor 7100 series, Intel Itanium 2 processors, and dual-core Intel Itanium 2 processor 9000 series 4 to 32 processors Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition and Datacenter Edition; SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 & 10; Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 & 5; and VMware ESX Server 3.x ES7000/one Xeon configurations start at $29,900 and go up to $348,000; Itanium configurations start at $45,000 and go up to $600,000
ES3000 Midrange Servers The ES3000 family is a midrange line designed for clients looking to support all ES7000 or Unisys ClearPath mainframe solutions Xeon DP and MP with dual- and quad-core processors with 32-bit and EM64T capabilities on all models 1 to 4 sockets with Xeon DP (dual and quad core) and Xeon MP (dual core) Windows 200x Standard and Enterprise AS (32-bit and 64-bit memory extensions), SUSE Linux Version 9 (64-bit memory extensions), Red Hat Linux 3 and 4 with ES and AS (both 32-bit and 64-bit memory extensions) and VMware ESX Server 3.x ES3140
ES3140L
ES3220
ES3220L
Xeon configurations start at $2,343 and go up to $59,000
ClearPath Plus Dorado Series ClearPath Plus Dorado Series servers are good for Java/J2EE and real-time applications. Dorado systems offer security and high service levels. Standard pricing models (fixed performance over time, typically 5 years) or pay-for-use models are available Xeon dual-core processors 400 series or Unisys proprietary CMOS ASIC instruction processors 4 to 32 processors; for the largest systems, the Dorado 380 and Dorado 390 can run up to 32 processors in a single image or up to eight partitions of 4 processors in each partition; total quantity of processors varies by model; Intel processors as used by the ES7000/one can be collocated in the same system OS 2200 Unisys proprietary operating system; if Intel processor modules are installed, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems can also be run (Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition and Datacenter Edition; SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9; Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4; and VMware ESX Server 3.x) 430
420
390
380
350
340 330
320
Cost varies by configuration.
ClearPath Plus Libra Series Libra systems offer a combination of both mainframe and mainstream capabilities CMOS and Intel Xeon processors Single module: up to 4 processors; Dual module: up to 8 processors; Four modules: up to 16 processors; One image can be from 1 to 16 processors; A module is always fully populated with 2 dual-MCP CMOS processors; Up to four MCP CMOS images per cabinet Libra 300 is an Intel server with 2 or 4 processors (3.16GHz and 3/66GHz) ClearPath MCP; Virtual Machine for ClearPath MCP (MCPvm); Microsoft Windows Server 2003; Enterprise Edition; Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition; Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 (SLES 9); Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL 4) 690
680
595
590
585
580
400
300
Cost varies by configuration