IBM today introduced a 1U rack-mounted server that marks the debut of a new memory technology designed to effectively double RAM capacity and boost system performance up to 50 percent.
The computer makers Memory Expansion Technology, or MXT, increases memory capacity by effectively compressing data to half its normal size, and accelerates system performance by assuring that frequently used data and instructions are stored close to a computers microprocessor, so they can be accessed quickly.
While memory compression techniques are not new, previous efforts have usually relied on software programs that tapped the power of the central processor. IBM, by contrast, utilizes dedicated hardware added to the chipset that can compress data about 10,000 times faster than earlier solutions, according to sources.
As a result of its memory-enhancing technology, Armonk, N.Y-based IBM said, an MXT-enabled server with 1GB of RAM will offer the same level of performance as a system with 2GB of RAM that doesnt have the technology. In effect, the greater the RAM, the larger the potential cost savings, IBM said.
The first MXT-integrated product is the Intel-based xSeries 330, a dual processor 1U (1.75-inch thick) rack-mounted server thats targeted for use in a Web-based infrastructure.
An IBM representative said the company chose to debut MXT in its thinnest server because the technology addresses a major concern of those especially price-conscious customers.
"1U servers are often deployed in dense Web-serving environments, like online trading, where space is at a premium, and the need for memory is high," said Jeff Benck, director of xSeries marketing. "The x330 with MXT is the perfect fit to help customers save money."
With MXT, IBM said, customers can reduce costs by either buying half the memory to achieve the same performance, or they can increase performance by installing the same amount of memory to achieve twice the capacity.
For example, IBM contends customers buying 10 xSeries 330 servers will save more than $5,000 compared with similarly designed PowerEdge 1550 servers from Dell Computer Corp. equipped with twice as much memory.
While prices for the 330 with MXT werent immediately available, existing 330s are offered starting at $1,600.
In the future, Big Blue will look to integrate MXT into a variety of platforms, including PCs and workstations, according to IBM representatives.
However, the technology may also find its way into rivals products, as IBM has licensed the technology to ServerWorks, a subsidiary of the Broadcom Corp., which makes chipsets for Intel-based systems.
Many of IBMs top competitors are among ServerWorks customers, including Dell, Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard. Co., a fact that doesnt appear to bother Big Blue.
"IBM had the innovative technology first," Benck said, "as well as a significant time-to-market advantage."