IBM Unveils iDataPlex Server Array

The new Intel-based server system is designed for Web 2.0 companies and HPC.

IBM is looking to become the backbone of Web 2.0.

At the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco April 22, IBM will unveil the iDataPlex, an x86-based server system that the company will begin selling to Web 2.0 companies as well as enterprises that need high-performance computing capabilities.

The iDataPlex system supplies about 100 Intel-based servers in a standard-42U (73.5-inch)-rack cabinet to companies that are building out a Web 2.0 infrastructure. This market is expected to grow 43 percent each year for the next five years, with enterprises spending $4.6 billion on Web 2.0 technologies by 2013, according to a report by Forrester Research.

With this potential for growth, IBM is looking to supply the infrastructure needed to sustain these Web 2.0 environments. In addition to iDataPlex, the company has begun a program called "Blue Cloud," which looks to supply the infrastructure for Web hosting and cloud computing both at the enterprise and the university level.

Since the need for servers within Web 2.0 is increasing along with the size of the average power bill, IBM has crammed its cooling technology into the iDataPlex system so that systems require little or no air conditioning, said Wendy McGee, director of IBM's Web 2.0 business unit.

The iDataPlex can use IBM's Rear Door Heat Exchanger-also known as "Cool Blue"-which is a series of sealed tubes within the cabinet that are filled with chilled water that helps cool the heated air before it comes out of the servers. IBM engineers also rotated the racks within the cabinet, which creates an environment that is wide but not deep, and allows the company to squeeze more servers into the system while leaving room for switches.

The result is a system that requires 40 percent less power, but can supply five times the computing power of other systems used within Web 2.0 environments, McGee said.

With these and any other technologies, McGee said IBM's system not only has an advantage over other systems built by top-tier vendors, but also over white-box systems that are used with these massive server farms.

"A lot of these companies don't have the IT engineering expertise to build their own servers," McGee said. "IBM as a global provider can build a system that is based on whatever type of applications a company is running. We can customize the servers for you, which use less power [and] are built with industry-standard parts, integrate the switches and provide this at a competitive rate."