Tag Archives: Nehalem EX

Cisco Announces 32 DIMM, 2 Socket Nehalem EX UCS B230-M1 Blade Server

 Thanks to fellow blogger, M. Sean McGee (http://www.mseanmcgee.com/) I was alerted to the fact that Cisco announced on today, Sept. 14, their 13th blade server to the UCS family – the Cisco UCS B230 M1

This newest addition performs a few tricks that no other vendor has been able to perform. Continue reading

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Dell M910 Blade Server – Based on the Nehalem EX

Dell appears to be first to the market today with complete details on their Nehalem EX blade server, the PowerEdge M910. Based on the Nehalem EX technology (aka Intel Xeon 7500 Chipset), the server offers quite a lot of horsepower in a small, full-height blade server footprint.

Some details about the server:

  • uses Intel Xeon 7500 or 6500 CPUs
  • has support for up to 512GB using 32 x 16 DIMMs
  • comes standard two embedded Broadcom NetExtreme II Dual Port 5709S Gigabit Ethernet NICs with failover and load balancing.
  • has two 2.5″ Hot-Swappable SAS/Solid State Drives
  • 3 4 available I/O mezzanine card slots
  • comes with a Matrox G200eW w/ 8MB memory standard
  • can function on 2 CPUs with access to all 32 DIMM slots

Dell (finally) Offers Some Innovation
I commented a few weeks ago that Dell and innovate were rarely used in the same sentence, however with today’s announcement, I’ll have to retract that statement. Before I elaborate on what I’m referring to, let me do some quick education. The design of the Nehalem architecture allows for each processor (CPU) to have access to a dedicated bank of memory along with its own memory controller. The only downside to this is that if a CPU is not installed, the attached memory banks are not useable. THIS is where Dell is offering some innovation. Today Dell announced the “FlexMem Bridge” technology. This technology is simple in concept as it allows for the memory of a CPU socket that is not populated to still be used. In essence, Dell’s using technology that bridges the memory banks across un-populated CPU slots to the rest of the server’s populated CPUs. With this technology, a user could start of with only 2 CPUs and still have access to 32 memory DIMMs. Then, over time, if more CPUs are needed, they simply remove the FlexMem Bridge adapters from the CPU sockets then replace with CPUs – now they would have a 4 CPU x 32 DIMM blade server.

Congrats to Dell. Very cool idea. The Dell PowerEdge M910 is available to order today from the Dell.com website.

 Let me know what you guys think.

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Details on Intel’s Nehalem EX (Xeon 7500 and Xeon 6500)

Intel is scheduled to “officially” announce today the details of their Nehalem EX CPU platform, although the details have been out for quite a while, however I wanted to highlight some key points.

Intel Xeon 7500 Chipset
This chipset will be the flagship replacement for the existing Xeon 7400 architecture.  Enhancements include:
•Nehalem uarchitecture
•8-cores per CPU 
•24MB Shared L3 Cache
• 4 Memory Buffers per CPU
•16 DIMM slots per CPU for a total of 64 DIMM slots supporting up to 1 terabyte of memory (across 4 CPUs)
•72 PCIe Gen2 lanes
•Scaling from 2-256 sockets  
•Intel Virtualization Technologies

Intel Xeon 6500 Chipset
Perhaps the coolest addition to the Nehalem EX announcement by Intel is the ability for certain vendors to cut the architecture in half, and use the same quality of horsepower across 2 CPUs.  The Xeon 6500 chipset will offer 2 CPUs, each with the same qualities of it’s bigger brother, the Xeon 7500 chipset.  See below for details on both of the offerings.

Additional Features
Since the Xeon 6500/7500 chipsets are modeled off the familiar Nehalem uarchitecture, there are certain well-known features that are available.  Both Turbo Boost and HyperThreading have been added to the and will provide users for the ability to have better performance in their high-end servers (shown left to right below.)


Probably the biggest winner of the features that Intel’s bringing with the Nehalem EX announcement is the ability to have more memory and bigger memory pipes.  Each CPU will have 4 x high speed “Scalable Memory Interconnects” (SMI’s) that will be the highways for the memory to communicate with the CPUs.  As with the existing Nehalem architecture, each CPU has a dedicated memory controller that provides access to the memory.  In the case of the Nehalem EX design, each CPU has 4 pathways that each have a Scalable Memory Buffer, or SMB, that provide access to 4 memory DIMMs.  So, in total, each CPU will have access to 16 DIMMs across 4 pathways.  Based on the simple math, a server with 4 CPUs will be able to have up to 64 memory DIMMs.  Some other key facts:
• it will support up to 16GB DDR3 DIMMs
•it will support up to 1TB with 16GB DIMMS
will support DDR3 DIMMs up to 1066MHz, in Registered, Single-Rank, Dual-Rank and Quad-Rank flavors.

Another important note is the actual system memory speed will depend on specific processor capabilities (see reference table below for max SMI link speeds per CPU):
•6.4GT/s SMI link speed capable of running memory speeds up to 1066Mhz
•5.86GT/s SMI link speed capable of running memory speeds up to 978Mhz
•4.8GT/s SMI link speed capable of running memory speeds up to 800Mhz

Here’s a great chart to reference on the features across the individual CPU offerings, from Intel:

Finally, take a look at some comparisons between the Nehalem EX (Xeon 7500) and the previous generation, Xeon 7400:

That’s it for now.  Check back later for more specific details on Dell, HP, IBM and Cisco’s new Nehalem EX blade servers.

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4 Socket Blade Servers Density: Vendor Comparison

IMPORTANT NOTE – I updated this blog post on Feb. 28, 2011 with better details.  To view the updated blog post, please go to:


Original Post (March 10, 2010):

As the Intel Nehalem EX processor is a couple of weeks away, I wonder what impact it will have in the blade server market.  I’ve been talking about IBM’s HX5 blade server for several months now, so it is very clear that the blade server vendors will be developing blades that will have some iteration of the Xeon 7500 processor.  In fact, I’ve had several people confirm on Twitter that HP, Dell and even Cisco will be offering a 4 socket blade after Intel officially announces it on March 30.  For today’s post, I wanted to take a look at how the 4 socket blade space will impact the overall capacity of a blade server environment.  NOTE: this is purely speculation, I have no definitive information from any of these vendors that is not already public.

The Cisco UCS 5108 chassis holds 8 “half-width” B-200 blade servers or 4 “full-width” B-250 blade servers, so when we guess at what design Cisco will use for a 4 socket Intel Xeon 7500 (Nehalem EX) architecture, I have to place my bet on the full-width form factor.  Why?  Simply because there is more real estate.  The Cisco B250 M1 blade server is known for its large memory capacity, however Cisco could sacrifice some of that extra memory space for a 4 socket, “Cisco B350 blade.  This would provide a bit of an issue for customers wanting to implement a complete rack full of these servers, as it would only allow for a total of 28 servers in a 42U rack (7 chassis x 4 servers per chassis.)

Estimated Cisco B300 with 4 CPUs

On the other hand, Cisco is in a unique position in that their half-width form factor also has extra real estate because they don’t have 2 daughter card slots like their competitors.  Perhaps Cisco would create a half-width blade with 4 CPUs (a B300?)  With a 42U rack, and using a half-width design, you would be able to get a maximum of 56 blade servers (7 chassis x 8 servers per chassis.)

The 10U M1000e chassis from Dell can currently handle 16 “half-height” blade servers or 8 “full height” blade servers.  I don’t forsee any way that Dell would be able to put 4 CPUs into a half-height blade.  There just isn’t enough room.  To do this, they would have to sacrifice something, like memory slots or a daughter card expansion slot, which just doesn’t seem like it is worth it.  Therefore, I predict that Dell’s 4 socket blade will be a full-height blade server, probably named a PowerEdge M910.  With this assumption, you would be able to get 32 blade servers in a 42u rack (4 chassis x 8 blades.) 

Similar to Dell, HP’s 10U BladeSystem c7000 chassis can currently handle 16 “half-height” blade servers or 8 “full height” blade servers.  I don’t forsee any way that HP would be able to put 4 CPUs into a half-height blade.  There just isn’t enough room.  To do this, they would have to sacrifice something, like memory slots or a daughter card expansion slot, which just doesn’t seem like it is worth it.  Therefore, I predict that HP’s 4 socket blade will be a full-height blade server, probably named a Proliant BL680 G7 (yes, they’ll skip G6.)  With this assumption, you would be able to get 32 blade servers in a 42u rack (4 chassis x 8 blades.) 

Finally, IBM’s 9U BladeCenter H chassis offers up 14 servers.  IBM has one size server, called a “single wide.”  IBM will also have the ability to combine servers together to form a “double-wide”, which is what is needed for the newly announced IBM BladeCenter HX5.  A double-width blade server reduces the IBM BladeCenter’s capacity to 7 servers per chassis.  This means that you would be able to put 28 x 4 socket IBM HX5 blade servers into a 42u rack (4 chassis x 7 servers each.)

In a tie for 1st place, at 32 blade servers in a 42u rack, Dell and HP would have the most blade server density based on their existing full-height blade server design.  IBM and Cisco would come in at 3rd place with 28 blade servers in a 42u rack..  However IF Cisco (or HP and Dell for that matter) were able to magically re-design their half-height servers to hold 4 CPUs, then they would be able to take 1st place for blade density with 56 servers. 

Yes, I know that there are slim chances that anyone would fill up a rack with 4 socket servers, however I thought this would be good comparison to make.  What are your thoughts?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Mark Your Calendar – Upcoming Announcements

As I mentioned previously, the next few weeks are going to be filled with new product / technology annoucements.  Here’s a list of some dates that you may want to mark on your calendar (and make sure to come back here for details:)

Feb 9 – Big Blue new product announcement (hint: in the BladeCenter family)

Mar 2 – Big Blue non-product annoucement (hint: it’s not the eX4 family)

Mar 16  – Intel Westmere (Intel Xeon 5600) Processor Announcement (expect HP and IBM to announce their Xeon 5600 offerings)

Mar 30 – Intel Nehalem EX (Xeon 7600) Processor Annoucement (expect HP and IBM to announce their Intel Xeon 7600 offerings)

As always, you can expect for me to give you coverage on the new blade server technology as it gets announced!

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More IBM BladeCenter Rumours…

Okay, I can’t hold back any longer – I have more rumours. The next 45 days is going to be an EXTREMELY busy month with Intel announcing their Westmere EP processor, the predecessor to the Nehalem EP CPU and with the announcement of the Nehalem EX CPU, the predecessor to the Xeon 7400 CPU.  I’ll post more details on these processors in the future, as it becomes available, but for now, I want to talk on some additional rumours that I’m hearing from IBM.  As I’ve mentioned in my previous rumour post: this is purely speculation, I have no definitive information from IBM so this may be false info.  That being said, here we go:

Rumour #1:  As I previously posted, IBM has announced they will have a blade server based on their eX5 architecture  – the next generation of their eX4 architecture found in their IBM System x3850 M2 and x3950M2.  I’ve posted what I think this new blade server will look like (you can see it here) and  I had previously speculated that the server would be called  HS43 – however it appears that IBM may be changing their nomenclature for this class of blade to “HX5“.  I can see this happening – it’s a blend of “HS” and “eX5”.  It is a new class of blade server, so it makes sense.   I like the HX5 blade server name, although if you Google HX5 right now, you’ll get a lot of details about the Sony CyberShot DSC-HX5 digital camera.  (Maybe IBM should re-consider using HS43 instead of HX5 to avoid any lawsuits.)  It also makes it very clear that it is part of their eX5 architecture, so we’ll see if it gets announced that way.

Speaking of announcements…

Rumour #2:  While it is clear that Intel is waiting until March (31, I think) to announce the Nehalem EX and Westmere EP processors, I’m hearing rumours that IBM will be announcing their product offerings around the new Intel processors on March 2, 2010 in Toronto.  It will be interesting to see if this happens so soon (4 weeks away) but when it does, I’ll be sure to give you all the details!

That’s all I can talk about for now as “rumours”.  I have more information on another IBM announcement that I can not talk about, but come back to my site on Feb. 9 and you’ll find out what that new announcement is.

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