CeBIT 2010: IBM's Fifth x86 Generation Sets New Standards
Much more working memory, Flash drives instead of conventional hard disks, and physically partitioning multiprocessor systems. These are some of the new features of IBM's fifth generation of x86 architecture: eX5 servers.
More virtualized hosts, larger workloads for virtual machines and especially large databases have one thing in common: they are memory hogs. Up to now the maximum amount of working memory was pegged to the number of CPUs. The new IBM architecture raises the bar. Three new server systems, the X3850 X5 (high end), X3690 X5 (entry level) and the Blade Center HX5 were presented March 2 to the public in a CeBIT preview. These systems provide double the previous maximum working memory. According to IBM, they should support the same number of virtual machines at half the cost, or 82 percent more VMs. The latter would drastically reduce the Hypervisor license costs for CPU-bound licensing.
The new server systems replace conventional hard drives with Flash memory. A single Flash slot, per IBM, with 450,000 I/O operations per second can deliver as much performance as four racks with 800 hard disks, with a 97 percent cost savings and only 1 percent of the power consumption. Finally, the physical partitioning allows transforming a four-processor system into two dual cores, which has further licensing cost benefits.
IBM sees the newest generation models as the exact solution in the context of sinking budgets, increasing complexity and higher demands made on IT.