Unisys Brings Linux to High-End Systems

The company's Intel-based ES700 servers can now run Linux operating systems from Red Hat and SuSE Linux.

Unisys Corp. is bringing Linux to its ES7000 line of Intel Corp.-based systems.

At the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco Monday, Unisys announced that it can now run Linux operating systems from Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc.s SuSE Linux unit on the ES7000 servers, which can scale from four to 32 processors.

"This is offering another level of choice for our customers," said Derek Rodner, senior marketing manager for Linux enterprise systems at Unisys, of Blue Bell, Pa. "It gives them a lot of flexibility."

The servers running Linux are available immediately.

Businesses running high-end RISC/Unix platforms are looking for a lower-cost alternative, but until now, most Linux-based systems couldnt scale past four processors, Rodner said. The release of the Linux 2.6 kernel changed that, enabling Unisys to bring it to their high-end systems, which is what the company calls its Intel-based mainframes. The ES7000 systems can run either Intels 32-bit Xeon processors or 64-bit Itanium 2 chips.

The 2.6 kernel also enables users to run dynamic partitions, the first time the capability—which has been available on RISC-based systems such as IBMs Power or Sun Microsystems Inc.s SPARC servers—will be offered for Linux users on Intel-based systems, Rodner said. This will enable customers to create Linux partitions within the systems and to dynamically move processing power in reaction to business demands.

"They can now begin to monitor and change workloads dynamically," he said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs analysis of the Linux 2.6 kernel.

The ES7000 servers were built with partitioning capabilities, but have had to wait for Linux and Microsoft Corp.s Windows operating systems to mature enough to take advantage of the technology, Rodner said. Windows will be able to handle partitioning with the Longhorn release, he said.

The new Linux kernel also will enable users to take advantage of Intels performance-enhancing HyperThreading technology and to increase file storage sizes from 2TB to as much as 16TB, Rodner said.

The company is seeing a lot of initial interest in the scientific, high-performance computing and public sector segments, Rodner said. The financial services industry also is a field that will take advantage of this, he said.

"The financial industry has always been a major proponent of Linux," Rodner said. "The problem was that most Linux could only go up into the two- to four-way range. This is an opportunity for them to begin to scale up their Linux environment."

Linux support on large multiprocessor servers is important at organizations that have made a commitment to the open-source operating system, such as Pennsylvania State University, which runs Red Hat Linux on an ES7000.

"In our business, in scientific and engineering computations ... we needed to do Linux because were running 600 servers, and theyre all running Linux," said Vijay Agarwala, director of high-performance computing and visualization at Penn State IT Services, in State College. "We needed it for compatibility."

While partitioning is important for businesses that want to run multiple workloads on a single CPU, Agarwala said that his office generally assigns a single processor or multiple processors to computational jobs, so that was less appealing to him.

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