IBM rolls out Opteron server, Linux database clusters

IBM Wednesday introduced its first server based on Advanced Micro Devices' 32-/64-bit Opteron chip, pushing the new eServer 325 as an integral part of its expanded Linux cluster offerings. It also announced a new Linux cluster that includes DB2 for Linux, which is its first database offering generally available for the Opteron processor.

With the new Opteron-based eServer 325, IBM is following through on plans it announced at the ClusterWorld Conference & Expo in June to build a cluster with servers using the Opteron chip. IBM also was the only major systems vendor to publicly back the chip when it was launched by AMD in April, saying it would incorporate the processor into a server platform and into its supercomputing offerings.

Because AMD's chip can handle both 32- and 64-bit applications it creates a comfortable environment for businesses looking to migrate to more advanced 64-bit computing, IBM executives say.

"The customers that want to deploy this, not all of their applications will suddenly or simultaneously be ready for 64-bit processing," says Scott Handy, director Linux software solutions for IBM. "AMD's got a great strategy of having really perfect backward compatibility with the 32-bit world that everybody is on today. … And our customers will be interested because it feeds right into the total cost of ownership of Linux by providing better price performance than comparable Intel-based servers."

At the same time, IBM introduced the new IBM DB2 Integrated Cluster Environment (DB2 ICE), which is based on IBM DB2 Universal Database for Linux and the IBM eServer 325 systems. DB2 ICE can scale to as many as 1,000 server nodes, IBM says, providing a low-cost, high-performance database configuration for businesses of all sizes.

"Our initial customers are tending to look at (the eServer 325) as something they want to do in 100- or even 1,000-node cluster range," Handy says. "So that's where we started to focus our solution offerings."

The pre-integrated clusters, which include servers, network switches and storage systems, can be deployed at a rate of four nodes an hour, IBM says.

The eServer 325 is a 1U rack mounted box that includes two AMD 240, 242 or 246 Opteron processors. Users have the choice of buying the IBM eServer 325 systems or accessing them through IBM's deep computing on demand facility and paying only for the processing power they use. The systems are designed to run either Linux or Windows operating systems.

Japan's largest national research organization, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST,) has ordered an IBM eServer Linux supercomputer, IBM announced Wednesday, claiming that when the system is delivered it will be the most powerful Linux-based supercomputer in the world.

The cluster, with a total of 2,636 processors, will include 1,058 eServer 325 systems with 2,116 AMD Opteron processors. It will deliver more than 11 trillion calculations per second and be integrated with other non-Linux systems to create a massive computing grid to support collaboration between corporations academia and government doing research in areas such as grid technologies, life sciences bioinformatics and nanotechnology.

The eServer 325 starts at US$2,879 and is scheduled to begin shipping later this quarter with full availability expected on October 17.

DB2 ICE is available for testing at IBM's Solution Partnership Centers, Linux Integration Centers and Technology Exploration Centers and Big Blue is also offering a free toolkit for customers interested in migrating to DB2 ICE from other databases.

DB2 ICE, which also runs on IBM Intel-based servers and blades, is available now and pricing starts at US$8,700 for a two-node system.

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