IBM Previews Larger Intel-Based Servers
used Comdex to share itsplans with customers for the greater-than-eight-processor Intel architectureservers it will release next year.
The server technology, based on the Summit chipset IBM has discussedbefore, will go under the name Enterprise X Architecture, a high-end version ofthe X Architecture technology that underpins its xSeries of servers. Both theEnterprise X Architecture (EXA) and the X Architecture are built on the ideathat IBM is bringing availability technology developed for its mainframes,AS/400s and Unix/RISC systems to the standard PC server market.
Through EXA, IBM will offer logical 16-processor servers made in amodular fashion from four-processor building blocks.
Users who want to build 16-processor systems would combinefour-processor modules through the use of what IBM calls a high-speedscalability port. The approach also will allow IBM to create remote I/O unitsthat can handle up to 12 I/O cards.
IBM will position the servers as ideal for a "pay as you grow"approach because users can buy one of the four-way modules and later add asecond, third or fourth module without paying up front overhead for a largeserver cabinet.
While the approach is similar to what will be possible throughInfiniband, IBM plans for it to be available in 2002 as opposed to 2003 whenmore widespread availability of Infiniband components is expected.
IBM's technology will compete with Unisys Corp.'s ES7000 servers,currently available in 32 processor configurations and likely to be released in64-way configurations in the next year or so. IBM will also facegreater-than-eight-way competition on the Intel side of the market from NECCorp. and Intel Corp.'s own chipset efforts. Compaq Computer Corp. andHewlett-Packard Co. also had plans to roll out high-end Intel servers in thesame timeframe; however, it is unclear where those two companies' high-endIntel server roadmaps stand in light of the merger.
Like Unisys does with its ES7000, IBM plans to support both 32-bit and64-bit processors in its Enterprise X Architecture servers.
Some of the technologies in IBM's EXA plans include L4 cache, hot swapmemory, system intelligence to help customers choose whether to use PCI orPCI-X slots, Windows monitoring for proactive system recovery and serverpartitioning capabilities. – Scott Bekker