Big Blue's Blades Up Server Speed Stakes

By Clint Boulton (Send Email)
Posted Oct 12, 2004


IBM is boosting performance in blade servers with new hardware and software. IBM has juiced up its BladeCenter line with hardware and software.

Tim Dougherty, director of marketing for IBM's eServer BladeCenter, said the company's new BladeCenter machines have increased speed, memory, power management, and operating system support to widen customers' choices.

The move comes as blade vendors, including HP and Sun Microsystems, as well as smaller specialists like RLX Technologies and Egenera, add more firepower into the thin, one- to four-processor blades that have become a staple of modular computing options.

For example, IBM is now offering customers the option of adding two SCSI storage drives to new BladeCenter systems. Based on the 2.8 GHz to 3.6 GHz Intel Xeon processor with 64 bit extensions, this allows the chassis to fit 14 blades rather than seven.

Dougherty claims this implementation has yielded as much as an 85 percent speed and a capacity increase over previous iterations. Specifically, the blades will run at 10,000 revolutions per minute versus 5,400 for the previous version.

Also, he said new I/O host bus adapters in the BladeCenter HS20 let customers maintain two hot swappable SCSI disk drives while doubling the number of Ethernet or fibre channel ports to each blade.

"In the past we made you give up one of the two drives [fibre channel or Ethernet] in order to put this card on," Dougherty explained. "Now you don't have to do that."

This means customers can mirror each blade's operating system, while attaching to a SAN to run heavier applications that might not be able to run as effectively on previous BladeCenter systems.

IBM's new eServer BladeCenter JS20 is now available with 2.2GHz Power processors, a significant improvement over the initial JS20's 1.6GHz processors. The increased performance lets users better handle file and print serving, Web serving, and collaboration.

New Single Instruction Multiple Data instructions software helps elevate the performance of the JS20s for heavy applications, such as those used in financial services or life sciences. Customers can enable this feature by using two new IBM compilers, the IBM XL C/C++ Advanced Edition V7.0 for Linux and the IBM XL Fortran Advanced Edition V9.1 for Linux.

Additionally, on the software side, PowerExecutive has been added to the BladeCenter management kit to curb the costs of power consumption on gear. The tool gauges each blade's actual power usage according to its power-demanding components and ensures that combined redundant power systems run at less than 200 percent.

General availability of the systems is November 12. The starting price for the new BladeCenter HS20 with one 2.8GHz Xeon processor, 512 MB of DDR2 memory, and dual GB Ethernet is $2,039. The SCSI storage expansion unit starts at $399.

With the news, IBM is hoping to add to its BladeCenter story. The company posted a 44 percent market share in blade systems, according to second quarter 2004 numbers from IDC. HP, the one time the market leader, now trails at 32 percent.

IBM also targeted HP in early September when it, along with Intel, opened up its BladeCenter blueprint to help broaden the influence of its platform for vendors looking to create their own blade servers. Since then, some 49 companies have received the BladeCenter open specification.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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