Following the recent release of the new family of eX5 servers, Daniel Robison speaks on scalable memory architecture MAX 5. The eX5 servers also support mulituple new technologies ultimately decreasing costs formerly associated with multi-core server management. Here is the article:
The eX5 portfolio is based on Intel's upcoming Nehalem EX Xeon processors, which have yet to be officially released but are expected by the end of March, meaning that exact specifications and pricing have yet to be detailed by IBM.
The three systems announced today are the four-socket IBM System x3850 X5, which will be the first to become available, the System x3690 X5, described by IBM as an entry-priced two-socket server capable of enterprise-class operation, and the BladeCenter HX5, which fits into IBM's existing BladeCenter chassis.
Availability dates have yet to be announced, but IBM expects all three to ship in the first half of 2010.
The major feature of the eX5 systems is greater memory scalability. The x3850 is capable of being configured with up to 3TB of RAM, while the x3690 X5 supports up to 768GB and the BladeCenter HX5 up to 320GB.
This scalability is designed to help customers meet growing compute needs with fewer servers, according to Luke Shutler, x86 platform manager at IBM UK.
"If you look at the market today, server sprawl is a problem for customers. Multi-core systems are now common, but in many cases there is not a requirement for more cores unless you can match that with memory capacity," he explained.
The eX5 systems have a memory architecture IBM has developed called MAX5, which decouples the memory from its direct connection to the processor. This enables a customer to cram in more DIMMs than would otherwise meet electrical tolerances via a memory expansion unit.
A knock-on effect is that customers can save on software licence fees by using a two-socket server for many demanding workloads, whereas only a four-socket system would otherwise have enough memory capacity.
The eX5 servers also support other technologies, including eXFlash, which replaces conventional hard disk arrays with Flash solid state disks for greater performance, and FlexNode, which enables dynamic partitioning of system resources as required.
IBM said that eXFlash would allow an eX5 to replace two entry-level servers and 80 disks that would otherwise be required to support a 240,000 IOPs database environment, saving up to $670,000 (£447,000) in hardware costs.
However, FlexNode may generate the most interest from customers, according to Shutler...