IBM Lowers Power Consumption, Ups Connectivity In New Blades

blade flash

The new blades are available with 50-watt quad-core Intel Xeon processors, 35-watt and 40-watt dual-core Xeons, and 68-watt dual-core AMD processors.

"Overall, blade server platforms are 30 percent to 40 percent more power-efficient than standard rack servers," said Doug Balog, vice president and business line executive for IBM's BladeCenter platform. "We're working with processor vendors to cut power consumption further."

They also have an optional, on-board 4-Gbyte modular flash drive to take the place of a direct-attached hard drive. Balog said the flash drive can be used as a Linux boot drive or as a cache memory for external drives.

"They only consume 2 watts of power per blade, instead of 10 watts with hard drives," he said. "Client data can be shared on external storage devices."

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Those external storage devices, as well as other external devices, can be connected to the servers via optional modules for 10-Gbit Ethernet, 4-Gbit Fibre Channel and InfiniBand. Those connectivity options come to IBM's BladeCenter enclosure thanks to third-party members of, an organization of vendors developing products for IBM's blade architecture.

Scott Bisbee, brand specialist for x Series servers and storage at Champion Solutions Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based IBM solution provider, said the new IBM blades can be a good platform for building a virtualized IT infrastructure.

By collapsing 40 to 50 servers into eight blade servers with low-voltage multicore processors, and adding flash drives and high-bandwidth connectivity, IBM's blade servers give customers the kind of density on which virtualization can succeed, Bisbee said.

"You can virtualize more applications using 10-Gbit Ethernet and InfiniBand and have a cross-connect between blade servers with unbelievable performance," Bisbee said. "Customers can virtualize their processing of applications on blades and feel comfortable because they're extremely robust."

The low-voltage AMD and Intel processors make a powerful combination with the flexibility of interconnect options in the IBM BladeServer chassis, according to Bisbee. "You can take 10-Gbit Ethernet or InfiniBand to do high-performance computing on industry-standard servers and make them better because of the partners in," he said.

About 30 percent to 40 percent of IBM's blade sales go to small and midsize businesses, Balog said.

"The SMB is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the business," he said. "One year ago, the view was that blades are not an SMB play. But with the advancements in technology, smaller businesses can find value with six to 20 blades."

The new quad-core Xeon blades carry a list price of $3,067 with one 1.60GHz low-voltage processor and $3,189 with one 1.86GHz low-voltage processor. A dual-core Xeon blade with one processor lists for $2,809. A dual-core AMD Opteron blade with one 1.8GHz low-voltage processor lists for $1,979. All are shipping now.

Between 60 percent and 70 percent of IBM's sales, including blade servers, go through the channel, Balog said.

Next month, IBM will unveil plans related to possible power utility rebates for replacing servers with low-voltage processor-based servers, he said.