IBM Unveils New x86 Server Architecture

Mike Vizard

IBM is using the formal unveiling of the next-generation Xeon processors from Intel today to launch a new high-density architecture that will provide a foundation for a broad range of forthcoming IBM servers.

The first substantiation of this architecture is the NeXtScale System that allows three times as many processor cores to be put in in a 1u rack server. According to Gaurav Chaudhry, worldwide marketing manager for IBM System x high performance computing (HPC), IBM is leveraging its system design expertise to deliver a system that incorporates 84 x86 systems to provide 2,016 processing cores in a 19-in. rack.

IBM is able to provide this capability, says Chaudry, by leveraging existing IBM data center technologies that include the IBM General Parallel File System, GPFS Storage Server, xCAT, software and the HPC that the company gained via its acquisition of Platform Computing in 2012.

IBM also introduced the x3650 M4 HD, an extension of its 3650-class system that includes a 12GB RAID and a 60-percent higher spindle count for higher density storage and I/O performance,

The NeXtScale System is built around the new Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v2 product family rolled out today by Intel, which IBM is using to refresh its entire line of existing x86 severs in addition to unveiling the NeXtScale System. The latest Xeon processors package up to 12 cores in a way that Intel says is 45 percent more energy efficient than the previous generation of Xeon processors.

Chaudry says IBM is primarily focusing its server efforts on high-density data centers that are willing to invest in server architectures that allow them to deploy the maximum number of processors possible to support workloads associated with scientific applications and also cloud computing, social media and advanced analytics. As such, Chaudry says rather than thinking of NeXtScale as a point product, it’s really the foundation for a new class of servers that IBM is building for application that require high density servers that require high-performance I/O.

Whether NeXtScale systems will take those markets by storm is anybody’s guess. But what is clear is that IBM intends to compete aggressively for a portion of the x86 server market that specifically values those types of performance attributes.



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