IBM to Double Capacity of Computing Clusters

IBM Friday introduced an expanded version of its eServer UNIX cluster, which
doubles the capacity of its predecessor, scaling up to 32 fully configured
POWER4 processor-based eServer p690 systems.


A cluster is a collection of interconnected computers used as a unified
computing resource with a single administrative domain. Clusters enable
businesses to consolidate servers, or implement large e-business
infrastructures.


IBM’s eServer Cluster 1600 derives much of its workload consolidation power
from its logical partitioning technology, which allows the p690 and p670 to
either be operated as single large servers or to each be divided into as
many as 16 “virtual” servers, running AIX 5L and Linux in one or multiple
partitions.


“More than ever, customers want to improve manageability and simplify their
IT environments,” said Surjit Chana, vice president, IBM eServer pSeries.
“The IBM eServer Cluster 1600 enables customers to dramatically reduce the
number of servers in their data centers and manage hundreds of applications
from a single pane of glass.”


The clustering software, first developed for IBM’s SP supercomputer, creates
simplified multi-systems management, remote management, hardware and
performance monitoring and distributed, secure parallel commands.


Additionally, the cluster’s General Parallel File System (GPFS) provides
shared access to files across nodes in the cluster. Scaling to nine
terabytes, the system allows customers to quickly and easily access huge
amounts of data on a cluster.


IBM’s release comes at a good time for the p690 as the unit has picked up
steam in the market, occupying 47 slots on the top 500 supercomputer list.


“IBM right now has the hot box,” said Jonathan Eunice, Principal Analyst and
IT Advisor for Illuminata. “The way they have put together the architecture,
not just at the processor level but also at the system interconnect level
has made IBM very successful.”


Big Blue’s competitors, including Sun, SGI, and HP, however, probably won’t
roll over without a fight.


“By no means is this a slam dunk,” said Eunice. “It is a very competitive
market and it’s a market where you really have to keep on your toes.
Whoever the customer is for these high-performance computers is interested
in getting their application done, so they are a lot less tied to the
architecture than a commercial application would be.”


For those looking to pick up one of IBM’s new clusters, it won’t come cheap.
A Cluster 1600 with two 32-way p690 servers with up to 32 partitions, and
a control workstation starts at $2,416,409.


The Cluster also allows for mixing and matching entry, mid-range and
high-end servers, including stand-alone enterprise p670s, p680s, and p690s
as well as a range of rack-mounted mid-range p660s.

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