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Cool Is Hot

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On Tuesday, one of the hottest days New York City has seen this year and amid a flurry of brownouts, IBM introduced technology it believes will be. the solution to the data center’s most pressing concern: power and cooling.

In the 21st Century server room, power and cooling are fast becoming top concerns. IBM has released new products and services to address these challenges at the chip, server, and data center layers.

This is not the first time power and cooling have been front and center in a vendor’s strategy. Sun Microsystems has been talking about greening up the data center for about a year now, and power and cooling have been one of its anchors.

Analysts have weighed on the criticality of power and cooling as well. Bernie Meyerson, vice president of strategic alliances and chief technologist at IBM, said that according to Gartner, in 2007 “power and cooling spending will exceed server spending.”

Couple that with the fact that chips have gotten as small as they physically can, and it makes sense that power and cooling is the latest place the chip vendors are seeking competitive advantage.

Under the Cool Blue Initiative, Big Blue debuted a number of technologies that will help enterprises manage power and cooling at the system, rack, and data center layers, Meyerson said. It also announced five new x System servers — two blades and three rackmounts — to take advantage of the technology.

Cool Blue Wave — the Technology

IBM added PowerExecutive, Thermal Diagnostics, and Director and Virtualization Engine to its Cool Blue portfolio.

PowerExecutive allows enterprises to “meter” actual power usage and heat emissions and set limits on the the amount of power a server or group of servers can use at at any given time. Future versions of PowerExecutive will enable clients to develop power policies across groups of servers to dynamically reallocate energy resources. PowerExecutive is now available for all IBM BladeCenter and System x servers at no additional charge.

IBM Thermal Diagnostics pinpoints then automatically takes action on heat-related issues in the data center. It provides clients with the intelligence needed to monitor heat emissions in the data center and determine their root causes. The tool periodically scans data center equipment to collect inventory, performance, and temperature metrics. Software then builds a virtual model of the equipment and identifies a “most-likely scenario,” automatically diagnosing thermal problems and enabling PowerExecutive, IBM Director, and service processors to respond to heat-related problems quickly and effectively.

IBM Director and Virtualization Engine is designed to help reduce energy usage across systems through server consolidation and systems management virtualization technologies by enabling pooling, managing, and optimization of IT resources across servers.

Five New Servers

In addition to containing Cool Blue technology, the servers introduced Tuesday contained a variety of innovative features.

The 4-way BladeCenter LS41, for example, starts out as a 2-way system and scales upward when the customer snaps in an additional two-socket AMD blade to the first. Processing capacity doubles in the seconds it takes the admin to attach the blade. In addition, by leveraging HyperTransport interconnect technology, IBM can sell this as a “pay as you grow” model.

IBM Xcelerated Memory Technology is designed to remove bottlenecks and speed up access to memory by as much as 15 percent, compared to any vendor in the market. With Xcelerated Memory Technology IBM clients can access data faster for business-critical, time-sensitive transactions.

The five boxes containing the new technologies are:

  • BladeCenter LS41: Enterprise-class scalable 2-way to 4-way blade; positioned at ERP, data marts, data warehouses, and databases and HPC clusters
  • BladeCenter LS21: Enterprise class 2-way blade optimized for performance computing; designed for financial services, scientific, high-performance computing, and databases
  • System x3755: For mid-market, large enterprise customers, designed for scientific computing, such as weather simulations and crash test analysis
  • System x3655: Business performance server, designed for for database, ERP, business intelligence, IPTV, and Video on Demand applications
  • System x3455: High-performance compute node, designed for scientific and technical computing, and database and Linux clusters

The five System x server are expected to be available the same time as the next generation of AMD Opteron processors, which is currently scheduled for third quarter 2006. Pricing will be announced at that time as well.

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