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Fujitsu Primergy blades get virtualization makeover

Fujitsu has upgraded its blade servers and chassis, making the line better equipped for virtualization and larger database applications.

Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp. introduced a new generation blade server and blade chassis last week with improved performance.

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The upgrades include enhanced I/O bandwidth to the Primergy BX600 S3 chassis, and improvements to the quad-core Intel Xeon-based blade server, the Primergy BX620 S4.

The changes make the Primergy blade server a better fit for applications like CRM, middleware, and Microsoft Exchange running in virtual machines, Fujitsu claimsThese applications demand much greater blade and I/O performance, and more flexible connectivity to handle the separate local area network (LAN) and storage area networks (SAN).

"The reason for the chassis enhancements is that more demanding applications and larger databases are being run on blades, and there are enhanced I/O requirements with virtualization," said John Rodriguez, senior product manager of the Primergy product line. "The virtualization trend requires good I/O to communicate."

Specifically, the Primergy BX600 S3 blade chassis features a new midplane, which serves as the interface between the server blades in the chassis and all the other system components. The new midplane enables three times faster I/O throughput than the previous design, with support for up to six Ethernet adapters per blade up from two.

The new chassis comes is paired with the Primergy BX620 S4 blade server based on the latest low-power quad-core Intel Xeon 5300 series processor.

The BX620 S4 recently set a record SAP SD Standard Application Benchmark for dual-socket servers with a result of 1,870 users and an average dialogue response time of 1.95 seconds, Fujitsu reports. The benchmark was conducted with a BX620 S4 blade server running two quad-core Intel Xeon processors X5355 2,66 GHz (8 cores, 8 threads) with SAP ERP 2005, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and SQL Server 2005.

Cool blades

Rodriguez said a full chassis of blades -- eight cores per blade (two quad-core processors) for a total of 80 cores - - can run at full power without cooling concerns because of the chassis' Cool-Safe design, which features big fans and independent air tunnels that improve airflow and achieve better cooling.

"We recommend hot and cold aisle and sufficient cooling. We have an optimized air flow design in our chassis, so the hot air isn't getting blown out the back of the chassis at a very high velocity… The whole in the front of the chassis allows larger air intake on the front, so the air isn't pulled out the back at a high velocity and onto other servers," Rodriguez said.

Fujitsu does not offer an upgrade program for customers who invested in its previous generation chassis, although the new chassis is compatible with previous generations of both Intel-based and AMD Opteron-based BX600 blade servers. Each 7U chassis supports 10 blades.

Fujitsu takes on IBM, HP

Fujitsu is expanding its blade server offerings to keep pace with this growing segment of the server market, which the IDC predicts will grow from $3 billion today to $11 billion by 2010.

Fujitsu has been in the blade market almost as long as Hewlett-Packard -- the largest server vendor with about 28% of the overall server market share in 2006. Fujitsu introduced its first blade (BX300) in 2002, followed by the BX300 and then the BX600 in 2004. The third generation blade from Fujitsu (BX620) was introduced last year.

Currently, the blade market is a two horse race between HP and IBM, which account for 76.1% of worldwide blade revenue. Dell is third, followed by Fujitsu with market share of 9.2% and 5.2%, respectively, IDC reports.

"Fujitsu is positioning the Primergy BX620 S4 blade around consolidation initiatives, which is inline with the way customers are currently utilizing blades," said Jed Scaramella, a research analyst with IDC.

In the increasingly competitive blade market, Fujitsu claims to offer excellent performance, connectivity and a unique flexible infrastructure called FlexFrame for SAP.

"On a pure product basis, our systems have excellent performance, as shown in performance benchmarks like our recent SAP SD benchmark with the Primergy BX620 S4 and the Microsoft Exchange MMB3 result on our Primergy TX300 S3," said Rodriguez.

The company claims the new blades offer lower power consumption, but when asked for specific information regarding power compared to previous generation blades, it did not have any data to back up that claim, saying power consumption depends on server configurations.

Other vendors use things like low-voltage processors to reduce power consumption.

Fujitsu offers environmental planning tools for the servers listing power consumption and heat generation for various server utilization levels, Rodriguez said.

Nevertheless, rack-mount servers remain Fujitsu's x86 server bread and butter. "Many of our customers prefer rack servers today, as they are a flexible and, in some cases, more expandable option. Our general philosophy is to offer our customers the best options possible and let them select the solution that meets their individual needs," Rodriguez said.

Pricing for the BX620 S4 blade server starts at $1,948. Pricing for the BX600 S3 chassis starts at $7,176.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Bridget Botelho, News Writer

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