A little over a month ago, we
asked ‘What’s happening with IBM System x?’ in response to rumors that IBM was
considering ‘disinvesting’ and leaving the x86-based systems market. We
examined the issue from a business, product and market perspective and reached
the conclusion that “We
don’t see any compelling evidence that IBM will or should abandon the x86.” Today’s announcements concerning improvements,
extensions and new products and services for the System x supports our earlier conclusion,
as it documents their plans to greatly increase their investment and visibility
in the market of highly flexible, general-purpose System x servers from the
singles to massive enterprise server farms.
IBM NeXtScale System™ represents
an explosive expansion and movement by IBM into the High Performance (HPC) and
High Density computing market segments. It extends their current mix of
offerings which include the x3100, x3250, x3530, x3550, x3630, x3650, x3690,
x3750, x3850, iDataPlex, etc. to extreme
large scale systems.
IBM NeXtScale System steps up the
game significantly as a key representative of x86 based NeXtGen systems. It
presents a new architecture for IBM System x. The guiding design principles
were flexibility simplicity and scalability. This system directly targets the
general-purpose server market providing an attractively priced, high quality alternative
to the offerings from HP and DELL.
System statistics and
specifications will impress IT developer and operations staffs. A joint venture between the US Research
Triangle and a Taiwan-based IBM design/development team put together the system
and roadmap that excels today and will grow smoothly into the future. Its
components were designed to scale from components to single or double chassis
unit to full out single or multiple rack applications.
Developers will like the simple,
light chassis that is designed for ‘front-of-rack’ servicing, tool-less access
to servers and server removal without touching its power. The compute, storage
and PCI-GPU/GPGPU components are designed to swap easily, mix and match in
standard configurations. All are compatible with standard racks. Storage and
Graphics Acceleration or Co-Processing expansion units make upgrading easy
without any unique mid-plane dependencies.
Operations staff will like the
front-access to all components, including cable routing (if desired). All Power
and LEDs are forward facing. Networking cables and Switches are front facing and
direct to system with no proprietary switching. All switching is done at the
top of the rack. Support is available for 1/10/40 Gb, InfiniBand, FCoE and
VFAs. The system can be shipped fully configured and ready to power on. All
hardware, software and management are designed to assure maximum power
efficiency. We could go on but you get the idea. See here for more details.
IBM identifies 8 key points of
differentiation from competitor offerings; here are four that especially impressed
- No left/right servers needed (competitors require different servers for left and right sides of the chassis making replacement cumbersome)
- Simple, tool free installation of parts speeds installation and on- boarding (most other dense platforms require tools to install PCI cards and HDDs)
- Operation at 40°C (104°F) inlet air temperature can save money in the data center (most competition stops at 35°C (95°F))
- NeXtScale supports full TOP BIN Intel E5 2600 v2 130W processors (many other dense designs only support up to 115W)