Introducing the IBM® System x3850 X6 and IBM System x3950 X6, the sixth generation enterprise servers from IBM. With 4-socket and 8-socket performance and large memory capacity, these new X6 servers represent the ultimate in scale-up performance.
The new IBM System x3850 X6 four-socket server
The x3850 X6 (shown above) is a 4U four-socket server. Its eight-socket big brother, the x3950 X6, is an 8U server. Together, these next-generation rack-mount servers are the ultimate in high-performance, mission-critical computing.
These new servers differentiate themselves from all the rest in many ways, but simply put, they are fast, agile, and resilient. So how fast are the x3850 X6 and x3950 X6? Wait till you see the benchmarks!
The X6 family is designed to be fast from the ground up. Every subsystem is tuned to maximize performance:
Processing power, thanks to the latest Intel Xeon E7-4800 v2 and E7-8800 v2 processors
Huge memory capacity, with 96 DIMM sockets in the x3850 X6 and 192 DIMM sockets in the x3950 X6 (and with support for 64 GB LRDIMMs, you can have up to 6 TB of memory in the x3850 X6 or 12 TB in the x3950 X6)
New storage technologies, with IBM eXFlash memory-channel storage that closely aligns the performance of storage with the power of the processors
Intelligent storage caching, thanks to IBM FlashCache Storage Accelerator
The processors and memory are located in Compute Books, as shown below. There are up to four compute books in the x3850 X6 and up to eight Compute Books in the x3950 X6.
One of the X6 Compute Books each compute book contains one processor
and 24 DIMMs (12 DIMMs on each physical side of the book)
I’ll talk more about this very clever physical design in my next blog post, but for now, let me tell you more about IBM eXFlash memory-channel storage and IBM FlashCache Storage Accelerator, two key innovations that eliminate storage bottlenecks.
IBM eXFlash memory-channel storage
In offering IBM eXFlash memory-channel-storage in its industry-standard servers, IBM is the first to optimize its high performance servers for flash technology. This new and innovative technology brings storage closer to the processor subsystem, thereby improving performance considerably. Note that by closer, I mean electrically closer. These storage devices have the same form factor as regular memory DIMMs (see below), and are installed in the same slots and are directly connected to the memory controller of the processor.
IBM eXFlash memory-channel storage
IBM eXFlash DIMMs are available in 200 GB and 400 GB capacities and you can install 32 of them in a server. With 5-10 µs (microseconds) or better write latency for significantly faster database performance(1), eXFlash DIMMs have latency values lower than any solid-state drive or PCIe High IOPS adapter. This represents a significant advantage for customers who need the fastest access to data.
These eXFlash DIMMs are supported by most operating systems and are installed alongside RDIMMs in standard DDR3 memory channels. The projected capacity and performance of the Flash DIMMs will allow up to 12.8 TB DDR3-based flash storage in a single server, with up to 10 million random read I/O operations per second (IOPS) and more than 4 million random write IOPS.
If you’re looking for the fastest non-volatile storage possible, look no further than the IBM eXFlash DIMMs!
FlashCache Storage Accelerator
FlashCache Storage Accelerator, another innovation from IBM, is intelligent caching software that increases VM density and makes it possible to virtualize high-performance databases and applications. Using intelligent write-thru caching capabilities, you can get significantly better IOPS performance, reduced I/O load, and, ultimately, increased performance in primary storage.
IBM FlashCache Storage Accelerator
FlashCache Storage Accelerator places flash directly in the server, close to applications, which is in contrast to the typical approach of adding flash in shared storage arrays, either as a storage cache or as a disk replacement. Storage-based flash inherently masks flash performance with latencies introduced by the SAN.
You can read more about FlashCache Storage Accelerator in the paper from IBM Redbooks “The Benefits of IBM FlashCache Storage Accelerator in the Enterprise Solutions.”
These are just two examples of the differentiated value these new enterprise servers bring to IT teams. We’ll soon be publishing a planning and implementation book on the X6 servers. Stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, there’s more information on the X6 launch page at http://ibm.com/systems/x/x6.
In my next blog post, I’ll explain how these servers are designed for easy upgrades when your business needs them.
(1) 15-10 µs write latency for eXFlash DIMMs in preliminary testing vs. 15-19 µs latency for PCIe-based flash storage from Fusion IO, Micron, and Virident. 65 µs latency for Intel S3500 and S3700 SSDs. (Better results are expected when testing is complete.) Source: IBM internal testing.
David Watts is an IBM Redbooks Project Leader. He writes books and papers on many areas related to IBM Flex System, IBM BladeCenter and IBM System x. Follow David on Twitter at @DavidAtRedbooks.