IBM Revamps Server Line - InformationWeek

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Hardware & Infrastructure
06:30 PM

IBM Revamps Server Line

Vendor focuses on multicore processing, improved density, and power utilization and cooling technologies.

In just the first six weeks of this year, IBM refreshed its entire server line, from "i to z." New offerings in the vendor's four key computing platforms--from x86-based blades to mainframes--started hitting the market this month.

With new releases of its iSeries, pSeries, and xSeries servers, and a new accelerator for its zSeries mainframe, IBM is focusing on multicore processing, improved density, and innovative power-utilization and cooling technologies.

Perhaps the vendor's most notable debut, however, will be its BladeCenter Servers, which up the ante for server flexibility. The forthcoming BladeCenter H, with a starting price of $3,849, will allow blades with different processors to be interchanged.

The Swiss Army Knife of blade servers

The Swiss Army Knife of blade servers
The interchangeability of the new BladeCenter is a key feature, Forrester Research analyst Brad Day says. "This is more the Swiss Army Knife of blades," where you can interchangeably put AMD's Opteron, IBM PowerPCs, and Intel parts into one BladeCenter, he says. "That enables you to run every operating system."

The BladeCenter H also will include an autonomic management module, power management features, and support for iSCSI-based storage. The BladeCenter H will be available with dual-core Intel Xeon blades, new dual-core PowerPC blades, and an InfiniBand blade-switch module developed in partnership with Cisco. IBM also intends to offer, by the third quarter, a Cell-based blade, a nine-core system for high-performance computing. That product, based on the Cell Broadband Engine processor, will be able to render graphics-intensive applications for medical imaging, mapping, mathematical computation, and video-processing.

"They've taken an existing platform and expanded it, not just the performance but the flexibility as well," says Lew Johnson, president of Siwel Consulting.

IBM officials are hinting that an iSeries blade for the new chassis could come later in the year as well. Meanwhile, the iSeries servers include new processors and an upgraded operating system to support 600 ISV applications. With a handful of new Power 5+-based Unix servers (for its pSeries), IBM unveiled its fastest system to date and brought to the fore its Quad Core Module technology. IBM introduced systems with QCM in 2005.

Other servers IBM unveiled include the System p5 185 Express, which has three bays and four available slots, and comes in either a desk-side or rack-mount form factor. Then there's the entry-level System p5 510 Express, a rack-mount server capable of running IBM's Advanced Power Virtualization and integrated Virtualization Manager software.

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