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IBM, AMD Hope to Cool Off Your Computers

NEW YORK -- UPDATED: Partners IBM  and AMD  discussed ways to keep things cool in the datacenter on a day when temperatures hovered around 100 degrees in New York.

Managing power through cooling technologies was the centerpiece of the conversation at a press event here, where IBM unveiled two new blade servers and three new rack servers based on the chipmaker's forthcoming Opteron chips, known as Socket F.

The machines will leverage IBM's new cooling technologies and AMD's Opteron performance enhancements to provide a lot of power at a lower cost than current systems.

Big Blue hopes the approach will give it a competitive advantage against server rivals Dell , HP  and Sun Microsystems , all of whom use AMD's Opteron chips, which have been gaining market share at rival Intel's expense.

Mercury Research recently said AMD's second quarter x86 server market share was 25.9 percent in Q206, a 17 percent increase over AMD's share in Q106 of 22.1 percent and a 133 percent increase over Q205.

Susan Whitney, general manager of IBM's System x machines, said the new systems will have more than 21 percent greater performance than the first IBM Opteron systems launched in 2003, as well as more memory and higher input/output speeds.

"As you go from one to four processors, it will have near linear scalability," Whitney said. "So linear in fact that we can deliver with three processors what other vendors require four processors for."

IBM made this possible with a HyperTransport interconnect technology that doubles the capability of a two-socket blade that lets customers pay for more power as they grow.

Also, IBM's new Xcelerated Memory Technology removes bottlenecks, allowing systems to access large pools of memory at 667 megahertz. Lastly, for the I/O, IBM has increased the number of I/O slots on its new AMD servers.

"Systems design is paramount," Whitney said. "You have to have the right blend between processors, memory and I/O."

Whitney introduced the BladeCenter LS21, a 2-way blade geared for financial services, high-performance computing and databases.

Whitney also unveiled the BladeCenter LS41, a 2-way to 4-way blade designed for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, data marts, data warehouses, databases and high performance computing clusters.

With these blade servers, IBM introduced a new "snap-in" scalable blade server that lets customers attach a two-socket blade to an existing AMD blade to double processing capacity.

The strongest new rack system, the System x3755, is a scientific computing server for or mid-market to large enterprise customers that can be used to conduct weather simulations and crash test analysis.

The System x3655 is a business-performance rack server geared for database/ERP, business intelligence, IPTV and video on demand applications.

Finally, the System x3455 is a high-performance compute node designed for scientific and technical computing, database and Linux clusters.

IBM said product availability and pricing will be announced with the availability of the next-generation AMD Opteron processors, which are slated for an August 15 release date.

While the computing machines set another IBM standard for machines that conserve space while offering improvements in processor performance, memory and input/output, IBM seemed to wow more people with its new power management and cooling portfolio.

Cool Blue is a raft of hardware and software components that aim to cool down computers' servers in a datacenter at a lower cost than traditional methods.

This is important at a time when heat threatens to melt gear in datacenters, or at least cause CIOs huge headaches when it comes time to paying the electric bills.

Whitney introduced IBM PowerExecutive, new software for IBM BladeCenter and System x servers that lets clients meter actual power usage and heat emissions.

The software, free to BladeCenter and System x customers, also gauges the amount of power used by a single server or group of servers at any given time.

Whitney said IBM expects PowerExecutive will enable customers to develop power policies across groups of servers to reallocate energy resources.

Whitney also touted IBM Thermal Diagnostics, a thermal analyzer that reacts to overheating datacenters. The product will monitor heat emissions in the datacenter and determine their root causes before they impinge a system.

The software then builds a virtual model of the equipment and allows PowerExecutive, IBM Director, and service processors to respond to heat-related problems.