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 supercomputerlist.
"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.