Tag Archives: virtualization

Virtualization Performance on Blade Servers

One of the industry-leading independent technology assessment service firms, Principled Technologies, just updated their site with a ton of white papers covering performance on just about any product or technology.  You can check out their website at http://www.principledtechnologies.com/default.htm for the complete list, but I wanted to give you the links to their papers that cover virtualization performance on blade servers.

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Dell FlexMem Bridge Helps Save 50% on Virtualization Licensing

Let’s face it.  Virtualization is everywhere.  

Odds are there is something virtualized in your data center.  If not, it soon will be.  As more workloads become virtualized, chances are you are going to run out of “capacity” on your virtualization host.  When a host’s capacity is exhausted, 99% of the time it is because the host ran out of memory, not CPU.   Continue reading

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Announcing IBM eX5 Portfolio and the HX5 Blade Server

UPDATED: 3/2/2010 at 12:58 PM EST
Author’s Note: I’m stretching outside of my “blades” theme today so I can capture the entire eX5 messaging.
 
Finally, all the hype is over.  IBM announced today the next evolution of their “Enterprise x-Architecture”, also known as eX5.  
Why eX5?  Simple:  e=Enterprise X=x-Architecture  5=fifth generation. 

IBM’s Enterprise x-Architecture has been around for quite a while providing unique Scalability, Reliability and Flexibility in the x86 4-socket platforms.  You can check out the details of the eX4 technology here. 

Today’s announcement offered up a few facts:   

a) the existing x3850 and x3950 M2 will be called x3850 and x3950 X5 signifying a trend for IBM to move toward product naming designations that reflect the purpose of the server. 

b) the x3850 and x3950 X5’s will use the Intel Nehalem EX – to be officially announced/released on March 30.  At this time we can expect full details including part numbers, pricing and technical specifications. 

 c) a new 2u high,  2 socket server, the x3690 X5 was also announced.  This is probably the most exciting of the product announcements, as it is based on the Intel Nehalem EX processor but IBM’s innovation is going to enable the x3690 X5 to scale from 2 sockets to 4 sockets – but wait, there’s more.  There will be the ability, called MAX5 to add a memory expansion unit  to the x3690 X5 systems, enabling their system memory to be DOUBLED.d) in addition to the memory drawer, IBM will be shipping packs of solid state disks, called eXFlash that will deliver high performance to replace the limited IOPs of traditional spinning disks.  IBM is touting “significant” increases in performance for local databases with this new bundle of solid state disks.   In fact, according to IBM’s press release, eXFlash technology would eliminate the need for a client to purchase two entry-level servers and 80 JBODs to support a 240,000 IOPs database environment, saving $670,000 in server and storage acquisition costs.   The cool part is, these packs of disks will pop into the hot-swap drive bays of the x3690, x3850 and x3950 X5 servers.

e) IBM also announced a new technology, known as “FlexNode” that offers up physical partitioning capability for servers to move from being a single system to 2 different unique systems and back again. 

 
Blade Specific News
1) IBM will be releasing a new blade server, the BladeCenter HX5 next quarter that will also use the Intel Xeon 7500.  This blade server will scale, like all of the eX5 products, from 2 processors to 4 processors (and theoretically more) and will be ideal for database workloads.  Again, pricing and specs for this product will be released on the official Intel Nehalem EX launch date.  
 

 

  

IBM BladeCenter HX5 Blade Server

 

An observation from the pictures of the HX5 is that it will not have hot-swap drives, like the HS22’s do.  This means there will be internal drives – most like solid state drives (SSDs).  You may recall from my previous rumour post that the lack of hot-swap drives is pretty evident – IBM needed the real estate for the memory.  Unfortunately until memristors become available, blade vendors will need to sacrifice real estate for memory. 

2) As part of the MAX5 technology, IBM will also be launching a memory blade to increase the overall memory on the HX5 blade server.  Expect more details on this in the near future. 

Visit IBM’s website for their Live eX5 Event at 2 p.m. Eastern time at this site: 

http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/info/x86servers/ex5/events/index.html?CA=ex5launchteaser&ME=m&MET=exli&RE=ezvrm&Tactic=us0ab06w&cm_mmc=us0ab06w-_-m-_-ezvrm-_-ex5launchteaser-20100203 

As more information comes out on the new IBM eX5 portfolio, check back here and I’ll keep you posted.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

MAX5 Memory Drawer (1U)

 

I find the x3690 X5 to be so interesting and exciting because it could quickly take over the server space that is currently occupied by the HP DL380 and the IBM x3650’s when it comes to virtualization.  We all know that VMware and other hypervisors thrive on memory, however the current 2 socket server design is limited to 12 – 16 memory sockets.  With the IBM System x3690 X5, this limitation can be overcome, as you can simply add on a memory drawer to achieve more memory capacity. 
Industry Opinions
Check out this analyst’s view of the IBM eX5 announcement here (pdf).
Here’s what VMware’s CTO, Stephen Herrod, has to say about IBM eX5:

  

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Great Dell Blade Server Page – "Dell TechCenter Wiki"

Looking through my previous posts it would appear that I’m against Dell’s blade server.  That’s not the case.  The reality is that it is hard to find good technical info on Dell’s product – that is until recently.  A search on SwagBucks.com led me to a little-known Dell website, called “Dell TechCenter Wiki“. 

The site, located at http://www.delltechcenter.com/, is a Dell sponsored wiki where you can find technical info on servers, storage, and even virtualization.  The wiki also provides recorded demos, white papers and even weekly chats with Dell experts to get your hard-to-answer questions answered.  Last week’s chat offered  an overview of new features available with the Dell Chassis Management Controller (CMC) for remote monitoring and access of system component information and status of Dell PowerEdge™ M1000e modular blade enclosures. 

As you can tell, this information can be extremely valueable to an IT professional with Dell blade servers, so I encourage you to check it out and let me know what you think.

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HP's Well Hidden Secret Blade Server

bl2x220cg5

BL2x220c G5 (2 server "nodes" shown)

HP’s BladeSystem server offering is quite extensive – everything from a 4 CPU Intel blade to an Itanium CPU blade, however their most well hidden, secret blade is their BL2x220c blade server.  Starting at $6,129, this blade server is an awesome feet of design because it is not just 1 server, it is 2 serversin 1 blade case – in a clam shell design (see below).  This means that in a HP C7000 BladeSystem chassis you could have 32 servers!    That’s 64 CPUs, 256 CORES, 2TB of RAM all in a 10U rack space.  That’s pretty impressive.  Let me break it down for you.  Each “node” on a single 2 node BL2x220c G5 server contains:

  • Up to two Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® 5400 sequence processors
  • Up to 32 GB (4 x 8 GB) of memory, supported by (4) slots of PC2-5300 Registered DIMMs, 667 MHz
  • 1 non-hot plug small form factor SATA or Solid State hard drive
  • Embedded Dual-port NC326i Gigabit Server Adapter
  • One (1) I/O expansion slots via mezzanine card
  • One (1) internal USB 2.0 connector for security key devices and USB drive keys

BL2x220

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may have noticed that this server is a “G5” version and currently has the older Intel 5400 series processors.  Based on HP’s current blade offering, expect to see HP refresh of this server to a “G6” model that will contain the Intel® Xeon® 5500 series processors.  Once that happens, I expect for more memoryslots to come with it, since the Intel® Xeon® 5500 series processors have 3 memory channels.  I’m guessing 12 memory slots “per node” or 24 memory slots per BL2x220c G6.  Purely speculation on my part, but it would make sense.  

Why do I consider this server to be one of HP’s best hidden secrets?  Simply because with that amount of server density, server processing power and server memory, the BL2x220c could become a perfect virtualization server.   Now if they’d only make a converged network adapter (CNA)…

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