GuidesBig Blue's Blades Up Server Speed Stakes

Big Blue’s Blades Up Server Speed Stakes

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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

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

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