IBM Turns DIMMs into Persistent High-Performance x86 Storage

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    IBM today unveiled the sixth generation of its x86 servers, which in an eight-way configuration now provide access to three times as much memory as before.

    With IT organizations looking to boost the performance of applications by putting entire databases in memory, Stuart McRae, IBM High End Server Business Line manager for IBM System x servers, says this latest generation of x86 servers is unique because they can provide access to 12.8TB of persistent storage using DIMMs that work like Flash storage for an application.

    McRae says this eXFlash memory-channel storage architecture dramatically improves performance by moving persistent storage closer to the core processor than ever before.

    Because they are installed directly on the memory bus on an x86 server, McRae says less than five microseconds of latency lies between the processor and DIMMs, which he says will eliminate the need for storage area networks (SANs) or network-attached storage (NAS) systems altogether in some instances.

    The new servers are available in four-way and eight-way configurations of IBM System x and PureSystems servers that can be upgraded using what IBM refers to as a “Compute Books” module that combines processors and DIMM memory in a way that McRae says makes it easier to right-size a system for any given application workload. That approach, adds McRae, also serves to make the system more resilient, because in the event of a DIMM failure, processing will naturally fail over to another Compute Book module.

    IBM also announced upgrades to other members of its x86 server lineup, including an all-Flash system that provides access to 48TB of usable storage in a 2u unit. Capable of providing 1.1 million IOPs, the IBM FlashSystem 840 doubles the bandwidth and performance of its previous Flash memory system. IBM also is introducing the FlashSystem Enterprise Performance Solution, which bundles the FlashSystem 840 and IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) technologies.

    Finally, IBM is formally unveiling IBM Platform Resource Scheduler software for private and hybrid IBM SmartCloud environments.

    As is the case with most IBM x86 servers, this latest generation of systems is squarely focused on high-performance applications that need to run in data centers where the density of the server environment needs to be maximized. That focus may not make IBM a market leader in terms of the number of x86 servers, but when it comes to high-performance x86 servers, IBM is starting to put some distance between itself and the rest of the pack.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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