IBM to harness new cool running Xeon feature

Five servers based on Xeon DP offer options for the data center. New chip features, as well as technology from IBM's existing products, may bring lower heat loads to the rack unit.

IBM today unveiled five new servers in the xSeries line based on Intel's 64-bit Xeon DP processor. The new 64-bit Intel Xeon processors will be available on the new IBM eServer xSeries systems: x226, x236, x336 and x346, as well as IBM BladeCenter HS20 by the end of February.

These are not the first IBM servers to use the 64-bit technology, but they are first to use the upgraded Intel DP chip. According to analyst Charles King, of Hayward Calif.-based Pund-IT Research, Intel processor upgrades occur about every six months. King predicts similar announcements from other vendors.

This is another example of how IBM is taking technologies from the mainframe and incrementally improving the entire product set.
Charles King
Principal AnalystPund-IT Research

The processor features two new functions, demand-based Switching (DBS) and Execute Disable Bit. DBS will have the most impact on data centers. According to IBM, DBS has the capability to save customers 24% annually in power costs.

"Demand-based switching allows us to deliver a tool to manage the power going to the system from an on-demand approach," said Stuart McRea, xSeries worldwide marketing manager, IBM. "A data center running a Web site critical to business or an e-mail application is going to use maximum power during the day and produce a lot of heat. While at night, the batch processing servers will be running hot. This technology allows systems that need power to get power, and the servers that don't can be throttled down."

While new processor features will be integrated by all Xeon vendors, IBM's Calibrated Vectored Cooling (CVC) will be exclusive to this offering. CVC optimizes the path of cooled air flow through the system, allowing servers to use fewer fans and less power. "The faster processors generate more heat in smaller rack units," McRea said. "Cooling is a critical problem, because at some point you can't put any more air through a room."

According to King, CVC was developed for mainframes originally. "The simplicity of it is amazing. There is a fan at the back of the unit that pulls cold air from the front of the server across the hottest part of the processor," King explained.

For more on cooling:

Cool servers: Finding balance in the data center

Additional air conditioners still not cooling hot areas

After developing the technology for the mainframe, IBM then applied it to blades, where the small footprint had exacerbated heat issues. According to King, many of the original blade offerings had used Pentium processors because Xeon ran too hot. CVC technology for blades had allowed IBM to launch the first Xeon-based blade product.

"This upgrade of the server line now brings CVC technology to the pizza boxes," said King. "This is another example of how IBM is taking technologies from the mainframe and incrementally improving the entire product set."

According to McRea, the main beneficiary of this technology will be organizations running rack systems with multiuser environments. "Organizations running servers for e-mail throughout a building can consolidate their servers to the data center," said McRea.

He also predicts many people will be doing a Windows replacement in the near future. "Y2K caused a lot of people to upgrade five years ago. Now people are ready to upgrade to a 64-bit server," McRea said.

The servers will ship in the coming week.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, News Editor

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