Tuesday, March 2, 2010

IBM's New eX5 Server Announcments

I wanted to tell everyone about the new server lines IBM announced today.  I attended IBM Business Partner training on this a few months ago and the products are impressive.  I was under NDA until today to speak about anything.  I can talk about the IBM products specifically but I'm still not able to talk about the Intel Nehalem EX chipset.  I will have in depth posts of the EX chipset when it is officially released.  Also, I am writing this from notes taken a few months ago so a few things might be slightly off.  If you see a mistake, please let me know and I will correct it!

As always, Kevin does an awesome job of laying out the products (and has some great pictures) so head over to his site for an introduction.  Hot off the press, Kevin has another article on just the X5 blade here.

Here's the basics:
  • The servers contain Intel's yet to be announced Nehalem EX chipset.  I can't discuss the details on that since I'm still under NDA.  I will present what has been pre-announced by Intel.
  • The Intel Nehalem EX (Intel 75XX) was designed by Intel to be the 4 socket follow up to the previous generation, the Intel 74XX.  This was the IBM 3850M2 and the HP DL 580 servers.
  • (My opinion here, don't fuss at me Intel and IBM) Intel intended the Nehalem EX to be a 4 socket architecture.  IBM modified the architecture in cooperation with Intel for 2 socket servers.
  • IBM has released the following servers based on Nehalem EX:
    • 2 socket rack server called the x3690 X5.  It can hold two Intel 75XX processors and 32 memory slots
    • 2 socket blade server called the X5 blade.  This was a pre-announce so I can't talk much about it yet.  One thing that will be cool about the blade is it will be "lego based".  By this I mean you can buy one and snap on another for a 4 socket blade
    • 4 socket rack server called the x3850 X5 and the x3950 X5.  This will stack like the previous generation of 3850's and 3950's.  Each 3850/3950 will hold four Intel 75XX processors and 64 slots of memory
    • Additional memory can be bolted on to any of the models above using an IBM exclusive attachment called the MAX5.  This will be a 1U (for the rack servers) with 32 memory slots or 1 blade width attachment that will give you an additional 24 memory slots.  It attaches directly into the Intel QPI (Quick Path Interconnect) bus for easy, low latency memory expansion of the models
    • If I remember correctly both the 3690 and the 3850/3950 will have 1 GB on board network ports but an Emulex card can be added to the systems to replace the 1GB with 10GB on board
What do we know about the Intel EX chipset and why do we care?

I will point you to links here and here.  As I stated before, I'll have in depth analysis of the chipset when it is announced.  The why we care part is actually really cool.  There are some great advancements in the technology but there are also many things to make your life easier at time of purchase as well.

In conclusion, I'm very excited about the 2 socket offerings.  They appear to be very innovative and exciting.  I wasn't given access to any other vendor's early release information so I'm not even sure if anybody else will offering 2 socket servers based on Nehalem EX.  Interesting times indeed...

1 comment:

afidel said...

The 3690 should be a heck of a virtualization platform if the cost of the memory expansion shelf is reasonable, 16 DIMM's per socket should bring down licensing costs considerably from even current Nehalem platforms but if they pull a UCS and charge so much for the shelf that it negates the savings it will be meh.