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IBM Previews Cool Blue, Expands Server Offerings

IBM says the new products, based on the AMD Opteron chip, will optimize power consumption at the chip, system, and software levels while delivering high-powered computing.
IBM announced that it would expand its AMD Opteron-based server offerings and its server innovations.

In a series of announcements at a news conference Tuesday in New York City, the company announced new System x and BladeCenter products. IBM said the new products would optimize power consumption at the chip, systems and software levels, while delivering high-powered computing and responding to increased customer demand for more choice in the x86 segment. The company is also counting on them to expand its server market share.

Hector Ruiz, CEO of AMD, said the companies will continue a partnership that begins in research and development, includes universities, and extends to manufacturing.

IBM first introduced its AMD Opteron processor-based systems to the market in April 2003. The company's new server portfolio includes five systems and blades for business performance computing to help meet a variety of needs, including business intelligence and enterprise resource planning.

The new BladeCenter LS41 is an enterprise class scalable two-way to four-way blade, which IBM claims ideal for ERP, data marts, data warehouses, databases and high powered computing clusters. The BladeCenter LS21 is an enterprise class, two-way blade optimized for performance computing, which the company said is designed for financial, scientific, high performance computing and database use.

The System x3755 targets mid-market, large enterprise consumers and is equipped to handle weather simulations, crash test analysis and more. The System x3655 is a business performance server that can support a variety of applications and functions, including IPTV and Video on Demand. The System x3455 is a high performance node ideal for scientific and technical computing, as well as database and Linux clusters, according to IBM.

The products are scheduled for release, with the next generation of AMD Opteron processors, in the third quarter of 2006, when prices will be announced.

Big Blue also revealed the industry's first "snap-in" scalable blade servers, which allow customers to add a two-socket AMD blade within seconds for double the processing capacity.

"One little lug nut," Susan Whitney, general manager of IBM System x, IBM Systems and Technology Group, said during the news conference. "That's the secret sauce."

IBM announced another system innovation, a patent-pending function called IBM Xcelerated Memory Technology to remove bottlenecks and to speed access to memory.

The company also previewed new "Cool Blue" technologies, to improve power efficiency by giving information officers tools to plan, monitor and control energy consumption.

"With power, cooling and electricity representing between 25 and 40 percent of a datacenter's annual operating costs, IT executives are very sensitive to the domino effect of power efficiency in the data center," said Jerald Murphy, COO and director of Research Operations for Robert Frances Group, said through a prepared statement. "Companies that are focused on technology portfolios that can dramatically improve power utilization and reduce energy costs will have a significant competitive advantage."

Cool Blue contains three key components: PowerExecutive, Thermal Diagnostics and Director and Virtualization Engine.

Power Executive software is available across IBM's BladeCenter and System x servers at no additional cost. It allows clients to meter power usage and heat emissions and limit the amount of power used by a single server or group of servers at any time. Eventually, it will allow clients to create power policies across groups of servers to reallocate energy resources, according to IBM.

Thermal Diagnostics, touted as the industry's first analyzer to pinpoint and automatically act on heat-related issue in the datacenter, allows clients to monitor heat emissions in the datacenter and determine their origins. It scans equipment to provide inventory, performance and temperature metrics and uses a virtual model to show the probable cause of thermal problems, like air conditioning failures.

IBM said Director and Virtualization Engine could help reduce energy use by up to 40 percent across systems through server consolidation and systems management virtualization technologies.