Lenovo Aims New ThinkServers at Cloud, Virtualization

by Jeffrey Burt

The new RD540 and RD640 will be armed with Intel's new Xeon E5-2600 v2 processors and will come with new capabilities, like an extra PCIe slot.

Lenovo, which is looking to grow its presence in the worldwide x86 server market, is rolling out two new systems armed with Intel's latest Xeon E5 chips and aimed at a range of cloud and virtualization workloads.

Lenovo officials, who unveiled the ThinkServer RD540 and RD640 Oct. 16 at the EDUcause 2013 educational IT conference in Anaheim, Calif., said the rack systems are designed to easily integrate into businesses' existing IT infrastructures and bring high levels of performance and reliability.

They also will be armed with Intel's Xeon E5-2600 v2 processors, which the chip maker introduced in September during the Intel Developer Forum (IDF). The 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge chips offer as much as 50 percent better performance and 45 percent greater energy efficiency than their predecessors, according to Intel officials.

The chips will give the new Lenovo ThinkServers a boost over the systems they're replacing, the RD530 and RD630, according to Michael Kendall, director of product marketing at Lenovo. That includes significant performance-per-watt capabilities over 24 cores and 27 percent faster performance than the previous systems.

However, Kendall and Andrew Jeffries, ThinkServer product marketing manager at Lenovo, said there is more to the two-socket systems than the processor upgrade. The new systems offer a range of new capabilities and features, they said.

"This is more than a speed bump," Kendall told eWEEK.

Among those features are up to 320GB of memory, a growing array of network adapter, storage controller and RAID options from vendors like LSI, QLogic and Emulex, as well as an extra PCI-Express slot in the RD640. Among the LSI options are the ThinkServer RAID 710 adapter with 1GB write-back cache and LSI MegaRAID CacheCade Pro 2.0 and Fastpath technology for improved reliability and performance.

The RD540 is a 1U (1.75-inch) system that includes  up to 16 terabytes of hard-disk capacity and new I/O expansion choices to address Web server, business analytics or virtualized workloads. The 2U (3.5-inch) RD640 is aimed at high-end cloud, compute and virtualization jobs. Both systems can fit into hybrid network environments and include Lenovo's Smart Grid power management technology, which uses Intel's Node Manager product for scaling power management to the data center level and simultaneously manage up to 1,000 server nodes.

The ThinkServers will be available Nov. 4 and start at $1,599.

The new systems exemplify Lenovo's strategy for gaining ground in the global server market. In an interview with eWEEK in September at IDF, Kendall noted that most other top server vendors—including Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Cisco Systems—are developing highly integrated software stacks for their hardware offerings. Lenovo won't follow that path, instead focusing its time and money on the hardware and leveraging interfaces to work with software offerings from partners like Microsoft, VMware and Red Hat, he said.

For example, Lenovo has some management software capabilities of its own, but also offers interfaces so that organizations can use management software from other vendors. "We don't push our own management solution," Kendall said.

In addition, Lenovo's ThinkServer systems leverage VMware's vSphere Operations Management software for virtualization management and LenovoEMC for storage technology. They also support the latest plug-in tools for VMware's vCenter and Microsoft's SCE for easy deployment, alerting and systems management for managed networks.


Originally published on eWeek.
This article was originally published on Wednesday Oct 16th 2013
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