IBM, RLX Power Up Blades With Faster CPUs

At the SC2003 supercomputing show, IBM introduced the BladeCenter JS20 and RLX unveiled the ServerBlade 3200ix.

Blade server vendors, led by IBM and RLX Technologies Inc., are increasing the power, performance and flexibility of their systems to help customers consolidation and utility computing goals for their data centers. IBM, at the SC2003 supercomputing show in Phoenix last week, introduced the BladeCenter JS20 server, which features up to two 64-bit PowerPC 970 chips running at 1.6GHz. The server will run SuSE Linux AGs Linux Enterprise Server 8 and Turbolinux Inc.s Enterprise Server 8 when it ships in March and will add support for IBMs AIX operating system next summer, officials said.

Also at the show, RLX introduced the ServerBlade 3200ix as part of a larger rollout of hardware, interconnect technology and prepackaged offerings aimed at the high-performance computing space. The dual-processor system is equipped with Intel Corp.s fastest 32-bit chip, the 3.2GHz Xeon with 1MB of Level 3 cache, said officials at RLX, of The Woodlands, Texas.

Separately last week, Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., said it is using the same Intel chip in its new ProLiant BL20p blade server. Another entrant, San Diego-based RackSaver Inc., rolled out the two-way RackSaver Intel Itanium 2 blade, powered by Intels 1.5GHz 64-bit chip.

Equipping his blade servers with the fastest chips is important to Bill Robbins, vice president of networking at Hostopia Inc., which hosts about 150,000 Web sites and 1 million e-mail accounts in its data centers in Toronto and in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Increasing the processing power in each blade enables businesses to do the same amount of work on fewer systems, thus saving valuable data center space, said Robbins, who runs much of Hostopias business on HP blade servers.

"Processing power and memory [capabilities] are going to be extremely important in the evolution of blades," Robbins said.

Another vendor, Egenera Inc., is looking to improve blade server performance not through chips but with software. The Marlboro, Mass., company this week will announce a deal with VMware Inc. to bundle VMwares GSX Server technology with the Egenera BladeFrame system.

The bundle will enable users to partition each Egenera Processing Blade into multiple machines, increasing the systems utilization and flexibility, company officials said.