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Fujitsu Beefs Up Storage Blades

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Oct 2, 2008


Drew Robb
With the recent release of the Fujitsu Primergy SX650 storage blade, now seemed as a good time as any to review the company's blade offerings and blade strategy as a whole. Hard-Core Hardware: With the release of its newest blade offering, the Primergy SX650, Fujitsu aims to shake up the storage blade market and boost its blade presence.

First, the SX650 itself. This storage blade provides disk storage to Fujitsu Primergy BX620 S4 server blades. It offers full hardware RAID control (RAID 0, 1, 5, 6) and up to 730GB of dedicated disk storage when up to five 2.5" SAS/SATA disks are deployed. The blade provides high-performance bandwidth via dual 3Gbit SAS connections. The box itself is 1U wide and roughly 6U in height to fit into the 7U of the Fujitsu BX600 chassis.

According to Richard McCormack, senior vice president of marketing at Fujitsu Computer Systems (Sunnyvale, Calif.), the SX650 can be used only in that specific chassis. Further, it is is currently attachable only to the Xeon-based Primergy BX620 S4 blade. The Primergy SX650 storage blade is currently available.

"The Primergy SX650 storage blade makes it possible to increase blade server storage capacities incrementally without the complexity and costs of SAN-based connectivity," he said. "The BX650 storage blade is directly attached to a given blade and is therefore not shareable. It offers one less disk than competitive offerings."

In total, this new release means Fujitsu now offers four blades, three server blades and the new storage blade. The server blades are:

  • Dual-socket, quad-core Xeon BX620 S4, along with its dual-core predecessor, which is currently still orderable
  • Dual-socket, quad-core Opteron BX630S2
  • Quad-socket, quad-core Opteron BX630S2, which occupies two blade slots. This yields a 16-core blade server with 128GB of memory.

McCormack seeks to differentiate the Primergy BX600 family of blade servers by emphasizing its power and cooling strengths.

"Our internal studies, which are backed-up by customer studies, show differences of up to 34 percent, relative to competitive offerings," he said, adding:

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We believe that standardizing on the 1U thickness provides a means to exploit the well-established 1U technologies, and that blade density should not be determined by chassis density metrics (i.e., competitors offer higher chassis density) but is instead determined by rack density. If our Primergy BX600 blades consume 30 percent less power and generate a commensurate reduction in heat, then customers can ultimately add more sockets/cores to a given rack or power density envelope."

Overall, the company's strategy appears to be working. Growth rates among its blade segment are outpacing Fujitsu rack and tower servers by a considerable margin, according to McCormack. Whether than will be enough to propel Fujitsu northward from its fifth position in the server standings remains to be seen. At the very least, however, it will probably serve to consolidate that position.

McCormack sees blades playing a very big role moving forward.

"Blades are going to become the dominant form factor in scale-out computing," he said. "Power/cooling on a per-core basis is superior to any solution except a purpose-built Google rack, and with the integrated management/deployment functions available in blade architectures, the next step in virtualization (i.e., application virtualization that organizes multiple physical servers into a common service pool) is much easier to take."

In the future, he anticipates more diversity in blade architectures, blades optimized for VM hosting with big memory configurations, for example. The big advantage of traditional rack servers over blades has been the amount of internal disk storage. With the debut of storage blades such as the SX650, as well as similar offerings from other OEMs, that advantage has been largely eliminated.

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