IBM Claims to Double Memory for Intel Servers

IBM Corp.'s research group has unveiled a new technology which it said can effectively double the amount of memory in servers based on Intel Corp. processors.

Dubbed IBM Memory Expansion Technology, or MXT, the technology could help Internet service providers and large corporations save millions of dollars in memory costs, according to IBM. MXT may eventually be used in personal computers and handheld devices, but will be used initially in industry-standard, Intel-based servers such as IBM's Netfinity, the company said.

MXT makes use of a new cache memory design that allows data to be stored and manipulated in a computer more efficiently, IBM said. Cache memory refers to a kind of data reservoir that sits close to the microprocessor in a PC and stores frequently accessed information, leading to faster performance.

MXT uses a new compression technique that can squeeze computer data down to half its size, allowing it to be stored on memory chips instead of on a disk. The technology effectively increases storage capacity by a factor of two for most types of applications, IBM said.

Using MXT, a typical rack-mounted server configuration based on Windows 2000 or Windows NT can achieve a memory capacity of 168G bytes with only 84G bytes of actual memory installed, according to IBM. With server memory selling for several thousands of dollars per gigabyte, a customer could save about $US250,000 on a single rack of servers, IBM said.

Customers with a large computing installation, such as ISPs that use multiple server racks, could see savings in the millions of dollars, according to IBM.

Smaller customers could also save money, since memory comprises between 40 percent and 70 percent of the total cost of most NT-based servers, IBM said.

Big Blue plans to demonstrate the technology tomorrow at the PC Expo show in New York City. Details about pricing and availability weren't immediately available.

Big Blue said it is looking at ways to incorporate MXT in its line of data-transaction and web-application servers, in addition to storage subsystems and other appliance servers. In the future, the technology could be adapted for desktop and laptop PCs, workstations, and devices such as handheld computers and mobile phones.

Adding memory is a popular way to boost performance in computers. The new compression technique should also allow more data to be crammed into smaller devices, IBM said.

ServerWorks Corp., which makes high-performance core logic chips for Intel-based servers, will incorporate MXT into upcoming, high-end core logic products under a technology sharing agreement that it recently signed with IBM.

IBM said ServerWorks has the right to sell MXT products to other customers, which should mean that other Intel server makers, including Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq Computer Corp. and Dell Computer Corp., will be able to use MXT in their products.

ServerWorks expects to offer MXT first in a product known by the code name "Pinnacle," IBM said.

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