Hardware Today: IBM Server Snapshot

The past year was a big one for IBM servers. The company completed a major overhaul of the four server lines that fall under its eServer moniker: iSeries midrange servers targeted at the SMB and departmental markets; the pSeries Unix-based servers aimed at the data center market; the Intel-based xSeries servers; and the mainframe-class zSeries servers. It also brought a new addition to the mix, the OpenPower range of Linux servers.

In an effort to meet desired utilization rates and consolidation concerns, IBM's latest additions to its eServer product family are POWER5-based offerings sporting Virtualization Engine technology.

The primary improvements to the eServer offerings involve the introduction of the POWER5 processor (p5) and the IBM Virtualization Engine. The success of these changes is demonstrated in the numbers. According to IDC, in 2004, IBM cemented its position as the No. 1 server vendor worldwide, with a 31.7 percent market share.

Recent Server Snapshots
HPC Market

"The trend now is to standardize and rationalize IT operations in order to get more bang out of the bucks already spent and the bucks that will be spent in the future," said Dan Olds, principal of Gabriel Consulting Group. "IBM is responding to this trend correctly by building mechanisms that allow customers to more easily manage a greater number of applications running on a smaller number of systems with fewer people."

This appears to be part of a major shift in emphasis from server technology to server economics. Until fairly recently, servers were sold primarily on the basis of speed and overall performance. Application developers used the extra juice to eke more mileage out of their software, and enterprises had to buy the latest boxes to stay current. Today, few applications struggle on modern large-scale systems. Hence, performance as the key to server sales is rapidly losing relevance. In its place is growing concern with utilization rates and consolidation. And that's where IBM is going with the pairing of p5 and Virtualization Engine.

The chart below provides an overview of IBM's eServer products.

IBM's eServer Offerings at a Glance
Server Line iSeries pSeries xSeries zSeries OpenPower
Description Midrange servers Unix servers Intel processor-based servers Mainframe-class servers Servers tuned for Linux
Target Deployment SMBs and enterprise departments Data centers of all sizes Scale-up and scale-out x86 users Large and midsize enterprises running mission-critical applications SMBs and budget-conscious enterprises
Processor Type POWER4, POWER5 POWER4, POWER5, JS20: PowerPC 970 P4, Xeon, Itanium-2 16-chip IBM Multichip Module (MCM) Multiple-channel subsystem (MCSS) allows logical partitions (LPARs) which can run different operating systems POWER5
Processor Range Small to Medium: 1- to 2-way; Medium to Large: 6- to 64-way Entry: 1- to 4-way; Midrange: 2- to 16-way; High-End: 32- to 64-way Rack-Optimized: 1- to 4-way; Tower: 1- to 4-way; High-Performance scalable: 4- to 16-way 2 to 4 logical channel subsystems Rackmount or desk-side 1- to 4-way
Operating Systems i5 (V5R3), OS/400 V5R2, Windows, Linux, AIX-5L AIX-5L, Linux Windows, Linux, AIX, MVS, all x86-compatible operating systems z/OS, z/OS.e, OS/390, Linux on zSeries, z/VM, TPF, VSE/ESA Linux
Servers Small to Medium:
Medium to Large:
i5 520
i5 570
i5 595 1
615 6C3
630 6C4
615 6E3
630 6E4
p5 520
p5 550 2
Cluster 1600
RS/6000 SP
p5 570
p5 590
p5 595
High Performance Computing:
Commercial Blue Gene 7
High-Performance Scalable:
445 3
455 4
800 5
Price Range 6 Small to Medium: Starts at $24,281 Medium to Large: Starts at $574,224 Entry: Starts at $3,967 Midrange: Starts at $24,927 High-End: Contact IBM Rack-optimized: Starts at $1,159 Tower: Starts at $499 High-Performance scalable: Contact IBM z890: Starts at less than $200,000 Others: Contact IBM 710: Starts at $4,713.00 720: Starts at $ 5,000

1 New i5 systems are part of the iSeries line despite the slightly different nomenclature. Because it is an integrated system, all iSeries prices include operating system and database, IBM i5/OS, and IBM DB2 UDB.
2 New p5 systems are part of the pSeries line despite the slightly different nomenclature. The pSeries line also includes a JS20, 2-way PowerPC 970 BladeCenter system.
3 The xSeries line includes the BladeCenter product family: HS20, a 2-way Intel blade, HS40, a 4-way Intel blade, and the BladeCenter T (Telecom Chassis), as well as a variety of storage products and telecommunications servers, and the IBM Cluster 1350. IBM's Opteron offering, the eServer 325, is also officially sold out of its xSeries line.
4 The 445 replaces the 440.
5 The zSeries line also includes the S/390 G5/G6 and S/390 Multiprise, which are no longer sold but are still supported.
6 Based on IBM's posted prices.
7 Commercial Blue Gene runs PowerPC 970 processors and is 5.7 teraflops. Contact IBM for pricing.

>> POWER and Virtualization

This article was originally published on Feb 8, 2005
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