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IBM Goes Pay-As-You-Grow With New Server

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Inching along in its “pay as you grow” computing strategy, IBM has built a new server that uses four Intel processors and scales up to 32 processors in an eight-chassis configuration.
Big Blue issues the second machine in its Intel-based X3 architecture line.

The box is built to scale for environments that require “always-on”
computing for industries such as financial services, government and healthcare. The x460 can handle virtualization applications from VMware, as well as ERP, CRM, and database software from companies like SAP and Oracle.

The xSeries 460 machine is a multi-node box, which means users can use scalability cables to connect up to seven additional chassis. This provides the 32-way support punch. When Intel ships its first dual core processors in the future, the x460 will support up to 64 processors.

The box is the latest sampling from the Armonk, N.Y. company’s X3 architecture, a $100 million development effort to bring mainframe-esque technologies down to IBM servers based on 64-bit Intel chips.

Big Blue introduced the first machine fitted with X3 architecture in February. That item, the X366, is a four-way server powered by the Intel Xeon DP Cranford processor.

With Extended Memory 64 technology and demand-based switching with SpeedStep technology, Cranford can improve system performance by more than 35 percent when up to 64 GB of memory is used.

With 60-percent greater speed than the older x445 model, the x460 ratchets the Intel server game for 64-bit machines up a notch, according to Jay Bretzmann, director of IBM’s eServer xSeries high performance group.

The x460 scales considerably more, and offers large cache performance, systems manageability, and simultaneous support for 32- and 64-bit applications, he said.

Beginning at $18,129 for a two-processor configuration, the x460 will be available in two weeks, running x86 operating system software from Microsoft, Red Hat, and Novell. Eight processor configurations are available starting at $72,000, Bretzmann said.

With two X3 machines securely under IBM’s belt, the company will look to grow market share in its Intel line, Bretzmann said of Big Blue’s plans going forward for the Intel line.

He said he likes IBM’s chances against HP and Dell, which don’t offer Xeon MP machines in the 8-way space. Dell doesn’t go above 4-way boxes, and HP is focusing on driving the Itanium architecture.

“The fact that we sell larger pSeries and zSeries systems is proof-positive that scale up is a very viable model in the industry,” Bretzmann said.

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