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IBM Upgrades x86 Servers, Network Connections

IBM today announced an upgrade to its iDataPlex rack mounted server as well as a new switching fabric for its BladeCenter chassis, both with virtualization in mind. The announcements come just ahead of the VMWorld conference in San Francisco next week.

The iDataPlex is a dense, 2U x86 server with two Xeon processors, 5TB of storage and up to 64GB of memory -- that is, until now. IBM (NYSE: IBM) is doubling that to 128GB with the new release. Also, IBM is adding support for vSphere 4, VMware's upgraded virtualization software.

The upgraded server will be shown off at VMworld next week. IBM claims it achieves up to 40 percent more performance per watt compared to other similar technology, while also shaving another eight watts off total energy requirements thanks to a new high-efficiency power supply.

In addition to the new iDataPlex systems, IBM will be showcasing two new virtualization technologies at VMworld for its BladeCenter blade chassis. The IBM BladeCenter Virtual Fabric adds eight virtual ports per adapter to the blade that can be programmatically adjusted by each port.

"Clients want speed and performance with virtualized I/O and have a unique I/O pipe for each VM, so if they want to dedicate I/O ports to an application, they can do it with this adapter," Alex Yost, vice president of the BladeCenter unit at IBM, told InternetNews.com.

The programmable ports are fast, too. They can be assigned in increments of 100Mbits, so when they deploy 10 gigabit Ethernet, customers will be able to do Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), Yost added.

"The important message here is the virtualization fabric is about convergence. It's about splitting up your I/O and virtualizing your I/O," he said.

IBM will also preview one of several projects it has with VMware to manage energy usage of all the individual hosts and virtual machines in a datacenter. The Active Energy Manager will be integrated with VMware software to give finer-grain examination of virtual machine behavior.

The software now only gives an aggregate of power use in the whole chassis, Yost said. Once it's enhanced, the software will show how much power is being consumed by each virtual machine in the cluster.

"This is all new stuff that no one can do right now," Yost said.

The new iDataPlex x360 M2 will be available in the fourth quarter. The BladeCenter Virtual Fabric will be available in first-quarter 2010. The IBM-VMware power monitoring technology will be available at a later date.