Intel Xeon 5600 invade big name servers

Apples, applesauce, and socket upgrades


And at Big Blue...

Over at IBM, the company formally launched the HS22V blade server, which El Reg told you about back in February; this machine is a peppier version of the existing HS22 blade that IBM debuted last March. The HS22V blade has 18 DDR memory slots to be shared by its dual processor sockets, compared to 12 in the regular HS22 blade. The HS22V blade also uses 1.8-inch Micro-SATA 50 GB solid state disks. It is this extra memory and flash that makes this HS22V blade suitable for virtualization, according to Big Blue, saying that the HS22V can host about 50 per cent more virtual machines than the HS22.

The company also slapped an M3 designation on its System x3400 and x3500 tower and x3550 and x3650 rack servers as part of its Xeon 5600 upgrade. These machines are going to be equipped with 16 GB DDR3 DIMMs starting in the second quarter, but the memory controllers don't allow more than a 50 percent increase in capacity compared to using the 8 GB DIMMs that were the top-end parts in the M2 machines that launched in March and in April.

Depending on the server model, IBM has also jacked up the disk storage capacity on the System x M3 machines, by between 60 and 100 per cent. The iDataPlex dx360 M3 server, which is kinda halfway between a blade and a rack server now has redundant power supplies but is otherwise unchanged excepting the Xeon 5600 upgrade and support for low-voltage DDR3 memory.

Oracle, which has newly come to the server business thanks to its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in late January, didn't say squat about the Xeon 5600s, but its Sun Blade X6270 and X6275 blade servers and Sun Fire X2270, X4170, X4270 and X4275 rack-mounted servers can, in theory, support the new processors as well as low-voltage memory. Oracle has put some Sun server spec sheets up, but the Sun products are not yet integrated into the Oracle online store. The servers are still sold over at a Sun address here, though. And the machines have not been updated since the merger and do not have the Xeon 5600s.

Fujitsu actually seems to have decided that the Xeon 5600s were the perfect time to roll out a new Primergy cloudy rack product line, the CX1000, not to be confused with the Cray CX1000s announced this week, which are a series of midrange supercomputers based on blade form factors and using Intel's Xeon 5600 and imminent "Nehalem-EX" Xeon 7500 high-end chips.

The Fujitsu CX1000s are a back-to-back compact rack design with the central chimney to eliminate heat from the rack and to also get ride of the hot aisle typical in data centers. (Or more precisely, to shrink it and contain it between two racks that are back to back. This is akin to similar rack designs from Silicon Graphics (formerly from Rackable Systems) that have been around for years. The CX1000 rack is 43U high and has slots for 38 server trays, each one holding a single two-socket Xeon 5600 server. The CX1000 rack has three vertical 2U bays on the right hand side of the servers, where switches can be mounted, and the back end of the rack has some big fans to pull air through the rack servers and push it up to exhaust ports above the racks. The hot air is never let loose in the data center, which makes sense.

The Primergy CX1000 supports a tray server called the CX120 S1, which has two Xeon 5600s, with up to 64 GB of memory capacity (a little on the skinny side for a six-core chip perhaps) and two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Each tray server has room for two 2.5-inch SATA drives (not hot pluggable) and one low-profile PCI-Express 2.0 x16 peripheral slot. While the CS120 S1 is interesting enough because of the rack it fits into, it seems to be a little light on the memory and storage. It would be interesting to see this machine configured with drawers of two-socket, half-width servers with more memory and room for more disks. But making room for the central chimney meant cutting back on server capacity if Fujitsu was to keep the rack size the same.

Silicon Graphics, as previously reported put out a new baby Xeon blade box called the Origin 400, and is ramping up the use of the Xeon 5600s in its Rackable rack, CloudRack cookie sheet, and Altix ICE blade servers, too. Rival Cray did the CX1000 midrange supers mentioned above, and reminded everyone that its CX1 baby super cluster can support the Xeon 5600s as well.

Server wannabe Cisco Systems has its B-Series horizontal blade servers (the half-width B200-M1 and the full width B250-M1) and the C-Series rack servers (the C200-M1, C210-M1, and C250-M1), all based on the Xeon 5500s and shipping last year. The B250 and C250 sport Cisco's own memory extension ASIC, which allows the two-socket boxes to support up to 384 GB of DDR3 memory, 2.7 times the maximum allowed using Intel's own 5520 chipsets.

Cisco did not make a formal announcement for its upgraded machines using the Xeon 5600 processors - that's the B200-M2 and B250-M2 blades and the C200-M2, C210-M2, and C250-M2 - but did make some noise about Vmark server virtualization benchmark results on the boxes. After comparing spec sheets, the M1 and M2 machines look to differ primarily in terms of the processors supported. Cisco has not divulged pricing on the B-Series and C-Series M2 servers. ®

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