IBM Pushes Server Partitioning

Launches range of 'eServer p5' Unix/Linux boxes that can be partitioned to create up to 10 virtual servers

July 13, 2004

2 Min Read
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IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)today launched a range of Unix servers based on its Power5 microprocessors -- chips that enable up to 10 virtual servers to reside in the same box (see IBM Launches Unix Servers).

The eServer p5 symmetric multiprocessing servers aim to help users consolidate applications onto fewer servers while improving system performance and administration.

The range includes models with two, four, or 16 microprocessors. Customers can choose whether to run IBMs own Unix operating system, AIX, or Linux operating systems from Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT) or SuSE Inc.

A potential user of the new servers likes what he sees. ”I think it’s an option that we have got to look at,” says Ken Ebbe, assistant chief information officer at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "It gives you the ability to put multiple applications together and have them live on the same equipment. That would help with some of our consolidation efforts and ongoing support costs."

Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst at Illuminata Inc. thinks partitioning processors to create multiple virtual servers will catch on in a big way. ”These very refined partitions will change the way that companies deploy their hardware and applications,” he says. "Partitioning will become a workaday reality."IBM also unveiled the latest version of its AIX operating system today, which it claims can boost processing performance by almost a third. AIX version 5.3 enables the Power5 processor to deal with two simultaneous "threads," or streams of processor instructions. The current Power4 chip can handle only one of these streams at any given time.

Jim McGaughan, director of eServer strategy at IBM claims that the "simultaneous multi-threading" can boost processor performance by 30 percent. However, it should be noted that these figures are based on IBM’s own internal benchmarks.

But it’s not just IBM that is busy improving its Unix story. Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) unveiled its new UltraSparc IV processor earlier this year and will be launching its new Unix operating system, Solaris 10, within the next twelve months. A spokesman for the company says this will offer users “at least” 10 partitions per processor.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), for its part, has already started migrating users from PA-Risc processors over to Intel Corp.’s (Nasdaq: INTC) Itanium technology.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum0

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