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3/2/2010
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IBM Unveils eX5 Servers

Big Blue's Intel-based server technology breaks the chip-memory connection to unleash extreme virtualization.

IBM on Tuesday introduced a new server technology it says will dramatically increase performance and cut computing costs for businesses that run their applications and storage on industry-standard, Intel-based servers.

Big Blue's eX5 chipset, announced at the CeBIT industry conference in Hannover, Germany, promises to reduce the number of servers required for a given workload by 50%, cut storage costs by 97%, and lower licensing fees by half, according to the company.

eX5-based servers will incorporate Intel's 45-nm Nehalem processors.

IBM said the whopping productivity gains are the result of an $800 million engineering project that delivered a system that uses memory much more efficiently than previous generations of server chipsets, including IBM's own X4 technology.

eX5 effectively eliminates a system's requirement to use chip-side memory for tasks where speed is critical by allowing the chip to access extended memory as quickly as it does native memory.

"With independent memory scaling offering 600% more memory than is available across the industry today, and unique, next-generation flash-storage technology, the eX5 portfolio of systems will display economy-altering capabilities," IBM said.

The company said eX5 systems' ultra-efficient memory use affords extreme virtualization that will deliver 30-times better database performance than current systems, 99% better performance-per-watt, and the ability for companies to run 78% more virtual servers for the same licensing cost.

IBM also claimed that its eX5 architecture can cut the cost of running an Oracle environment by 66% and increase SAP performance three-fold.

Test versions of the technology have already made their way into the marketplace. One company kicking the tires on eX5-based systems is database marketing giant Acxiom, which maintains 22,500 servers to crunch through 10 petabytes of customer data.

Axciom CIO David Guzman said early trials show that eX5 systems would allow Acxiom to double its virtualization capacity and increase its raw computing power fivefold while significantly reducing datacenter costs.

"The IBM eX5 systems are game changers," said Guzman, in a statement. "The concrete results of this next generation machine are exciting, and the roadmap has 'knock-your-socks-off-vision,'" said Guzman.

IBM will deliver three eX5-based servers this year—an "ultra-scalable" four-processor version, a blade system, and an entry level, two-processor version. It's also upgraded its System Director management suite for compatibility with eX5.

The company did not disclose pricing or specific availability dates.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Oracle's road maps for key Sun products. The report also analyzes what changes the acquisition will bring for business technology decision makers. Download the report here (registration required).

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