IBM has unveiled a new line of enterprise servers that promises to deliver the performance and memory scalability required for modern workloads such as operating large volumes of virtual machines, the company claimed.
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.
"If you want to run an in-memory database or as many virtual machines a possible, we can let you do this at low cost," Shutler said.
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.
"If you take two eX5 blades and cluster them together to make a four-socket system, FlexNode gives you the ability to decouple that and use it as two separate systems for batch processing overnight, for example. You can change the configuration on-the-fly to dynamically manage resources," he said.
Further details on eX5 pricing and specifications are expected following Intel's official launch of the Nehalem EX Xeon processors.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago