IBM Boosts Blades With Cell Processor

On Wednesday IBM unveiled a nine-core IBM Cell blade, a dual-core POWER processor-based BladeCenterJS21, and an ultra low-power Intel-based BladeCenter HS20.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

February 8, 2006

3 Min Read

In a bundle of new blade announcements Wednesday, IBM said it is looking to use its advanced cell processor in its new blade servers.

The company is also preparing to introduce its new POWER 6 processor.

IBM unveiled a nine-core IBM Cell blade, a dual-core POWER processor-based BladeCenterJS21 and an ultra low-power Intel-based BladeCenter HS20 at a news conference in New York.

With the highest blade density in a chassis, IBM is delivering storage, networking and security in a single, collapsed datacenter.

The ultra low power Intel-based BladeCenter HS20 is a dual-core blade with what IBM says is the industry's best performance per watt. BladeCenter H supports a Cisco 4X InfiniBand Switch Module with high-speed interconnect capability that is four times faster than previous generations. It is equipped for applications requiring 10Gb Ethernet or 10Gb Fibre Channel. It enables data to travel up to ten times faster than previously.

It comes with new management tools, including an autonomic management module, Power Executive management suites providing datacenter power requirements, extended integration with IBM System i5 and retail store integration.

Douglas Balog, vice president of IBM BladeCenter Business Line Executive, compared the system's advances to being able to control the utilities of a hotel from one location instead of having one employee go from room to room switching the lights on and off and adjusting the heat.

The new BladeCenter and accompanying Advanced Management Module will be available in March, beginning at $3,849.

The BladeCenter JS21 is IBM's first Cell-based product. Its Cell Broadband Engine processor's multi-core architecture is designed for intensive workloads and broadband media applications. It is the first blade with built-in virtualization capabilities. It supports Power Architecture, AIX 5L and Linux operating systems.

It offers top price-performance for bioinformatics, grid computing, retail manufacturing and petroleum research. It is a 64-bit UNIX blade server that holds two times the memory and is three times faster than its predecessors.

"This is what we've been waiting for," Don Morse, of Bryant University, told Senior Project Manager Don Bullock during a demonstration Wednesday morning.

The BladeCenter JS21 will be available in March, beginning at $2,499.

The new cell processor, based on Power Architecture, accelerates 3D rendering, compression and encryption for highly visual, graphic-intensive, real-time applications. Its multi-core architecture and high-speed communications capabilities deliver supercomputer capabilities for high performance workloads in digital media, medical imaging, defense, aerospace and communications.

The Cell BE, developed with Sony and Toshiba, drew crowds and praise during demonstrations at the news conference. It is available through special bids now and should be available for direct purchase by the third quarter of 2006.

IBM topped off the day's announcements with news of an expanded, an open community for developing the next generation of blade technology. More than 40 companies, including IBM and Intel, joined together to announce the official launch of

"Customers are much more in control in this open environment," said William Zeitler, senior vice president and group executive for IBM Systems and Technology Group.

Zeitler said Wednesday's announcements were the result of customer feedback and requests.

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