IBM Raises Blade Stakes

 
 
By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2003-06-30 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

eServer BladeCenter packs more storage into small space.

The eServer BladeCenter, IBMs first server blade offering, has the highest density in its class, packing up to 14 dual Xeon server blades in a 7U (12.25-inch) chassis. Packaged with robust management and provisioning tools, the BladeCenter offers large enterprise or e-commerce sites a modular, scalable, high-performance blade server system.

Each BladeCenter HS20 blade server can accommodate two Intel Corp. 2.8GHz Xeon processors with a maximum of 4GB of memory.

With the ability to pack as many as 84 dual-processor blades in a standard 42U (73.5-inch) rack, the BladeCenter, which shipped last month, should be a leading candidate for most high-density computing needs.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
IBM eServer BladeCenter
IBMs BladeCenter package offers enterprises a flexible, high-performance server blade system to fill high-capacity computing demands and server consolidation needs. The upfront cost of the BladeCenter can be high when adding options such as FC modules for connecting the system to a SAN, but IBMs robust management tools should allow companies to see a good return on investment upon successful implementation. More information is available at www.ibm.com.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
USABILITY GOOD
CAPABILITY EXCELLENT
PERFORMANCE GOOD
INTEROPERABILITY GOOD
MANAGEABILITY EXCELLENT
SCALABILITY EXCELLENT
SECURITY GOOD
  • PRO: Best performance density in its class; strong management and provisioning tools; highly modular and scalable chassis.

  • CON: Server blades have limited internal storage.

  • EVALUATION SHORT LIST
    HPs ProLiant BL20p G2 RLXs System 600ex Dells PowerEdge 1655MC
    The BladeCenter has the highest computational density of any blade systems eWEEK Labs has seen.

    The BladeCenter chassis offers excellent modularity and scalability, with redundancy at every point. The chassis can support two hot-swap redundant cooling fans and four power supplies. It can also hold two redundant hot-swap networking, storage and management modules.

    The eServer BladeCenter can be upgraded to support Gigabit Ethernet networks by swapping the switch module or uplinking the system to a SAN (storage area network) with the addition of the Fibre Channel switch module. The BladeCenter can also support InfiniBand with a simple module upgrade.

    Networking modules are available as Gigabit or 10/ 100M-bps Ethernet switches, and the storage modules can be either SCSI or Fibre Channel.

    Hewlett-Packard Co.s ProLiant BL20p G2 system can hold as many as eight dual-processor blades in a 6U (10.5-inch) chassis, and RLX Technologies Inc.s System 600ex has a 6U chassis that can accommodate 10 dual-processor blades.

    Dell Computer Corp. doesnt offer Xeon server blades yet, but Dells PowerEdge 1655MC provides six dual Pentium III server blades in a 3U (5.25-inch) chassis.

    Prices for the eServer BladeCenter chassis start at just under $5,000, with single-processor HS20 server blades starting at $1,879. By comparison, the ProLiant BL20p G2 blades, which use the latest 3GHz Xeon processors and SCSI internal storage, start at just under $3,900.

    RLXs System 600ex chassis starts at $4,500 and accommodates 10 of RLXs 2800i and 3000i ServerBlades. The $4,500 2800i blade uses the 2.8GHz Xeon processors, and the 3000i has the 3GHz Xeons. The price for the 3000i blades hasnt been released.

    Dells PowerEdge 1655MC has an aggressive price point, with single-processor blades starting at $1,500.

    The BladeCenter package eWEEK Labs tested is priced at a little more than $37,000 and includes the BladeCenter chassis and two blades. The BladeCenter chassis has four redundant power supply modules, a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch module and a two-port Fibre Channel switch module. The chassis itself has a configured price of $31,000.

    The $3,800 BladeCenter HS20 blade we tested comes with dual 2.6GHz Xeon processors with 512KB of Level 2 cache, 1GB of double-data-rate error-correcting-code synchronous dynamic RAM, a 40GB ATA-100 hard drive and embedded dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers with built-in failover and load balancing support. The second blade we tested, the x120, is designed for blade management and comes with a single 2GHz Xeon processor, 512MB of RAM, two 40GB hard drives, dual embedded NICs and networking components. It is priced at $2,477.

    The HS20 blades can be scaled with more memory—up to 8GB with the upcoming 2GB dual in-line memory modules. However, the HS20 sacrificed internal storage capacity to achieve higher density. The HS20 can use two 40GB ATA-100 drives, which limits the internal storage capacity to 80GB. The ATA drives run at 5,400 rpm—a much slower performance than conventional SCSI drives provide—and doesnt support RAID configurations. The HS20 can be expanded with two additional SCSI hard drives using a SCSI storage expansion unit, but that takes up the adjacent server slot.

    Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at francis_chu@ziffdavis.com.

    Executive Summary: IBM eServer BladeCenter

    IBMs BladeCenter package offers enterprises a flexible, high-performance server blade system to fill high-capacity computing demands and server consolidation needs. The upfront cost of the BladeCenter can be high when adding options such as FC modules for connecting the system to a SAN, but IBMs robust management tools should allow companies to see a good return on investment upon successful implementation. More information is available at www.ibm.com.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

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