IBM boosts BladeCenter H performance

IBM increases transfer speeds and efficiency across blade servers and networks

IBM has launched new interconnect technologies and management tools for its BladeCenter H system it claims increase transfer speeds and efficiency across blade servers and networks.

The company said the new Virtual Fabric Architecture enabled its BladeCenter H, introduced under a year ago, could deliver up to 43 percent more system bandwidth than HP's BladeSystem.

Big Blue reckoned that new consumer technologies such as Web 2.0, IPTV, and online gaming, and business technologies such as quad-core processing and virtualization, are driving the need for high-bandwidth interconnect technologies to move data traffic across high capacity networks. It said that the system delivered the increased bandwidth needed by providing businesses up to 10 times the capacity to move data across their networks.

The Virtual Fabric Architecture is the product of collaboration a number of partners whose technologies include:

-- Nortel 10G Ethernet Switch from Blade Network Technologies and NetXen 10G Ethernet Expansion Card. It offers 10Gb Ethernet connectivity directly to a blade server from IBM's collaboration with Blade Network Technologies and NetXen. The switch provides the wider connectivity while the expansion card connects it to the blade. According to IBM, the solution offers breakthrough 10G Ethernet pricing, an order of magnitude less than other offerings in the industry.

-- Cisco Embedded Fibre Channel Fabric Switch: the new switch allows customers to deploy end-to-end Cisco SAN services, such as VSANs, advanced security, and high availability. The switch is the next phase in a series of collaborations in switching between IBM and Cisco, and expands the switching solution offerings to include Fibre Channel, Ethernet and InfiniBand options, reckoned Big Blue.

-- QLogic Ethernet and Fibre Channel InfiniBand Bridge Modules: in conjunction with the Cisco 4X InfiniBand Switch Module provides gateway functions for one or more InfiniBand-connected group of BladeCenter H systems to external Gb Ethernet or Fibre Channel networks.

-- IBM BladeCenter Address Manager: Allows for the I/O virtualization of Ethernet and Fibre Channel connections within a system by providing BladeCenter customers the option to assign Ethernet and Fibre Channel port addresses used by their server blades via software as an alternative to the addresses that are burned-in to the hardware during manufacturing. BladeCenter Address Manager also supports a variety of fabrics from IBM ecosystem partners, said IBM.

-- IBM Multi-Switch Interconnect Module (MSIM): Helps double the number of Fibre Channel or Gb Ethernet connections to each blade. MSIM fits into the high speed switch slots in BladeCenter H, supports the entire BladeCenter switch portfolio.

"IBM BladeCenter is the world's most popular blade computing system, with more than 42 percent share of the market according to IDC. Since its introduction in 2002, IBM has installed more than half a million BladeCenter systems for customers and maintained a durable infrastructure platform by delivering new technology advances that remain compatible with IBM's original design innovation," said IBM BladeCenter VP Doug Balog. "With today's announcement it is clear that IBM has uniquely architected all facets of I/O to work as a central nervous system for IBM BladeCenter, delivering the optimal interconnection between blades, chassis, switches and our client's external networks."

IBM is collaborating with Cisco to provide BladeCenter customers access to Cisco VFrame, a data center provisioning and orchestration product that the company said enables utility computing, or the ability to commission and decommission shared pools of server and I/O resources on demand. According to Cisco, VFrame system management software creates virtual compute services by programming server switches to map diskless servers to a shared pool of I/O and storage resources. Cisco said that it reduces total cost of ownership by enabling administrators to provision compute services in seconds; to automate tasks based on business policies; and to simplify network and server architectures.

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