IBM puts mainframe kit in PC server

IBM has introduced the first PC server based on the Intel Xeon MP processor and a chipset derived from its mainframe and high-end...

IBM has introduced the first PC server based on the Intel Xeon MP processor and a chipset derived from its mainframe and high-end systems.

Three years in development, the new eServer x360 uses a compact rack that IBM claims will offer users 40% more processors per rack while taking up a third less floor space than competing systems.

The server runs Intel's new Xeon MP processor and IBM's XA-32 chipset - code named "Summit".

Tikiri Wanduragala, senior server consultant at IBM, said the Summit chipset uses both IBM's "silicon on" insulator and copper technologies from its high-end systems. This allows the chipset to run cooler and faster.

Wanduragala said the architecture had been developed for high reliability. "We are providing memory mirroring and Chipkill, which is essentially Raid 3 disk recovery for memory," he said.

With these features Wanduragala believed it would be possible to run applications reliably directly from memory rather than from hard disk that is the norm today. "While today's disk access is around 10 milliseconds, it would be possible to configure eServer with 5Gbytes disk-in memory, which would make access 1,000 times quicker," he said.

Another aspect of the design is what IBM describes as the RXE-100 Remote Expansion Enclosure, which supports PCI peripherals for both PC and IBM's RS/6000 P Series Unix servers.

In the future, IBM said, it would be possible to configure systems to share PCI peripherals between Unix and PC servers, giving considerable cost savings in mixed PC and Unix environments.

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