IBM unveils its x86 system

IBM (NYSE:IBM) today introduced the first systems that shatter technical barriers to offer dramatically more scalable, workload-tuned computing on the x86 platform. The company’s new eX5 servers are the result of a three-year engineering effort to improve the economics of operating enterprise-sized, x86-based systems.

The eX5 portfolio marks IBM’s second family of 2010 systems designed for a new generation of demanding workloads and to significantly reduce costs of existing IT infrastructure. They are being previewed today at the CeBIT trade show in Germany and will be officially available later this month and throughout the year.

The new systems ride a wave of market share growth for IBM. IBM gained more revenue share than any of the major x86 server vendors in each quarter of 2009 and now holds nearly 20 percent share — a 3.5 point year-over-year gain, according to IDC. IBM also significantly outperformed the blade market in 4Q09, recording 64 percent revenue growth in blades and gaining 5.7 points, according to IDC.(1)


An Engineering First Alters Economics of x86; Offers Dramatic New Memory Scale

Drawing on decades of experience in enterprise systems design and silicon packaging, IBM engineers have radically expanded the capabilities of the x86 platform by achieving an engineering first — decoupling memory from its traditional, tightly bound place alongside the server’s processor, thereby eliminating the need to buy another server to support growing memory-intensive workloads.  This all-new class of x86-based systems offers six times the memory scalability available today (2), helping to flatten the ever-rising cost of operating industry-standard data centers.

For example, the amount of data ingested by today’s average web-based workload doubles every year, increasing costs and straining resources. Users have traditionally dealt with the deluge by using the only method available with industry-standard platforms — throwing more servers at the problem, which furthers sprawl and increases power and management costs. Today, typical x86 servers are only being utilized at 10% of capacity due to a 30-year-old architecture that locks processor and memory capacity together.

Acxiom Corp. is a leader in interactive marketing services and early user of eX5 systems. The company counts among its clients seven of the top ten retail banks and nine of the top ten auto makers. Acxiom analyzes massive amounts of rapidly ballooning consumer data on behalf of its clients – four petabytes one year ago; seven petabytes just six months ago; and more than ten petabytes of data today. Acxiom now has 22,500 servers.

“The IBM eX5 systems are game changers,” says Acxiom CIO David Guzman.  “We’ve been able to double our virtualization capacity, dropping our software licensing costs. The price/performance equation is extraordinarily compelling, with five times the performance at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, there is a positive impact on all of the other key components of IT cost — space, power, labor, maintenance. The concrete results of this next generation machine are exciting, and the roadmap has ‘knock-your-socks-off’ vision.”

The eX5 systems take advantage of integration with IBM middleware to create a highly virtualized environment that can give users a flexible, highly scalable system that can reduce the number of servers needed by half while cutting storage costs 97% (3) and licensing fees by 50% (4).

 IBM Chip Unleashes Extreme Memory

A unique IBM silicon innovation allows processors on eX5 systems to access extended memory very quickly, an industry first and a leap forward that delivers the largest memory capacity in the industry. The IBM Enterprise X-Architecture chip is in its fifth generation with eX5 and leverages decades of IBM experience in integrating microelectronics to create first-of-a-kind silicon solutions.

Independent memory scaling technology, called MAX 5, offers six times more memory than is available across the industry today, which can allow clients to run 82% more "virtual servers" for the same license costs (5) and reduce middleware and application expenses dramatically. Clients running a Microsoft database can cut their license costs by 50% with eX5 (6).

eX5 Breakthroughs Packaged in Blades and Racks To Meet Variety of Workloads & Price Points

IBM will introduce three ultra-scalable eX5 systems in 2010 — the four-processor IBM System x3850 X5, the BladeCenter HX5 and the System x3690 X5, an entry-priced server capable of enterprise-class operation that will become the most powerful two-processor server on the market.

In addition to MAX5, IBM’s new eX5 systems feature additional breakthroughs that can improve the performance, cost and flexibility for x86 workloads:

    * eXFlash — a unique, next-generation flash-storage technology — replaces an older, less reliable generation of storage and can slash storage costs up to 97% by replacing hundreds of hard-disk drives and thousands of wires and cables (7).
    * FlexNode provides physical partitioning capability to change from one system to two distinct systems and back again, allowing clients to run infrastructure applications by day and larger batch jobs by night on the same system for superior asset utilization.

 IBM’s Systems Director software management suite has been upgraded to support eX5 technology and will allow users to pre-configure servers, remotely re-purpose systems and set up automatic updates and recoveries. In addition, IBM is planning to offer simplified Lab Services to help clients migrate to eX5 systems and maximize virtualization and database performance.

IBM Global Financing, the lending and leasing arm of IBM can help new and existing System x customers step up to the new X5 technology with flexible financing offerings that include the upgrade, take-out and disposal of existing leased and owned servers regardless of manufacturer.

Coinciding with the launch of eX5, IBM’s Global Technology Services (GTS) is announcing a new approach to delivering implementation services for server and storage products. Among the new offerings IBM is introducing are: IBM Implementation Services for System x – BladeCenter or System x remote implementation and IBM Implementation Serivces for System x – Remote ServicePac for IBM Systems Director. Initially available in the U.S. and Canada with plans to expand to the rest of the world later in the year, these remotely delivered, lower price point services help clients optimize system performance and reduce time to value.  

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