By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2005-07-18 Print this article Print

IBMs four-way eServer xSeries 460 server offers a highly scalable architecture with high-end processors, large memory support, and the latest storage and I/O subsystems. eWEEK Labs tests show it would be a solid choice for enterprises that need a highly scalable Xeon-based system to host mission-critical business applications.

The x460s modular 5.25-inch chassis can accommodate as many as four Intel Corp. Xeon processors with EM64T (Extended Memory 64 Technology) running at speeds of up to 3.3GHz. The ability to host both 32-bit and 64-bit applications makes the x460 a good choice for staging 64-bit application migration, but we think most shops will buy the x460 for its scalability.

The x460, which shipped in May, stands out from its high-end four- and eight-way server rivals in its use of new technology. The x460 taps IBMs third-generation X-Architecture (or X3) chip set, a high-speed interconnect technology that allows eight four-way server nodes to be linked via high-speed ports to form 32-way clusters.

Pricing for the x460 starts at $18,129 with dual 2.83GHz Xeon MP processors and 1GB of memory. The decked-out $45,800 x460 we tested included four 3.3GHz Xeon MP processors with 8MB of Layer 3 cache, a total of 8GB of DDR2 (double data rate 2) memory, four 36GB 2.5-inch SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) hard drives, an IBM ServeRAID-8i SAS controller, dual 1,300-watt hot-swap power supplies and an integrated Remote Supervisor Adapter II SlimLine service processor for on-board system management.

The x460, armed with the X3 architecture, provides a flexible, modular building-block design that allows enterprise shops to scale their server infrastructure to easily meet increasing application resource demands.

The integrated snoop filter in the x460 essentially provides an added virtual Layer 4 CPU cache to help reduce processor latency and minimize system bus congestion.

The x460 has four memory cards with four DIMM (dual in-line memory module) slots, for a total memory capacity of 32GB per chassis using 2GB DIMMs. In a maximum 32-way configuration, the x460 cluster can support up to 512GB of memory, allowing large shops to load entire databases into memory for high- transaction applications.

The x460 also boasts a large internal storage capacity, supporting as many as six 73GB SAS hard drives, for close to 440GB of internal storage. Software RAID levels 0, 1 and 5 are supported by default, with the option of adding an IBM ServeRAID-8i controller with 256MB of cache memory.

Other server vendors, including Hewlett-Packard Co., have started to introduce SAS drives in their server lines. SAS drives have a much smaller form factor than traditional 3.5-inch SCSI drives, allowing the x460 and its rivals to cram more drives into a rack-optimized chassis. SAS drives maintain some of the benefits of parallel SCSI, such as high reliability and performance, with serial transmissions running at 3G-bps duplex with a data transfer rate of 300M bps and expandable to 6G bps and 12G bps in future generations. SAS drives are compatible with SATA (Serial ATA) technology, and SATA drives can be deployed in SAS systems.

In tests, the x460 scored high in expandability, providing up to six hot-swappable PCI-X 2.0 slots. All six PCI-X slots run at 266MHz.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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