IBM’s Newest NUMA-Q Server to Handle 64 Intel CPUs
Written By: R. Krause
Published On: June 2000
IBM’s Newest NUMA-Q Server to Handle 64 Intel CPUs
May 24, 2000 [Source: IBM] - IBM introduced the world's most powerful
Intel-based server, the 64-processor NUMA-Q E410, along with the industry's
most affordable technology-leading two-way server, the Netfinity 3500
M20. These products represent the high-end and the low-end of the industry's
most scalable Intel-based server line for e-businesses running Windows
2000 and Linux environments.
by Intel's new 700 MHz Pentium III Xeon processors, the NUMA-Q E410 has
shattered the industry's foremost data warehousing performance benchmark
doubling the result of Hewlett Packard's top-of-the-line V-series server
at nearly half the cost. TPC-H results may be viewed by visiting their
web site at: http://www.tpc.org/New_Result/TPCH_Results.html.
is enabling customers to build intelligent infrastructures on their own
terms with UNIX, Linux or Windows 2000 application environments," said
Rod Adkins, general manager, IBM Web Servers. "Our NUMACenter framework
allows customers to seamlessly manage IBM's entire line of Intel-based
servers with upward integration into higher level management infrastructures."
Features of the NUMA-Q E410
Performance and Scalability: NUMA-Q systems scale from 4 to 64 processors
and 64 GB memory in a single system, far exceeding any other Intel-based
system on the market. NUMA-Q near linear scalability is enabled by its
unique four-processor "quad" building block architecture, which allows
customers to add balanced I/O and memory as they add processors.
Availability: NUMA-Q's "mainframe style" multi-path I/O and switched
fabric fiber channel SAN (Storage Area Network) capabilities provide a
platform with no single point of subsystem failure. Further enhancing
availability is connectivity with IBM Enterprise Storage Server featuring
multi-port capability, which maximizes I/O by evenly distributing it over
all available interface ports for maximum bandwidth. IBM backs NUMA-Q's
outstanding availability with the option of aggressive, customer-specific
service level agreements. Working closely with IBM, customers have achieved
sustained availability ratings of 99.999%.
Protection: The NUMA-Q architecture allows customers to fully leverage
their IT investments while taking advantage of the latest technology.
NUMA-Q E410 quads are compatible with all existing NUMA-Q servers which
support multiple generations of Intel processors in a single system.
NUMACenter is a pre-integrated environment combining Netfinity application
and web servers running Windows 2000 or Linux and a NUMA-Q database server
with a consolidated SAN and systems management including Tivoli software
and the Advanced Detection Availability Manager (ADAM). NUMACenter is
ideal for rapid deployment and growth of enterprise applications and is
widely used by application service providers and e-businesses requiring
a highly scalable and flexible compute environment.
E410 began shipping on May 22 with an entry price of $69,000.
The projected market impact is a tough call on this one. The performance
on the TPC-H scale is excellent, and the uptime figure of 99.999% is pretty
good (equating to approximately 5 minutes of downtime per year). The uptime
is superior to Windows NT-based systems, and the performance is better
than HP's Unix offerings (at least, of the ones tested to TPC-H). In a
more mainstream package, these figures would help IBM/Sequent (IBM purchased
Sequent for their NUMA-Q offerings/architecture) gain sales volume and
market share. One caveat: the "five 9s" uptime comment in the press release
mentions customers "working closely with IBM" to achieve these figures.
This implies that the "average Joe" will not necessarily achieve those
results. IBM should provide figures from customers who haven't had their
hands held so much.
area of concern for us is IBM's entire NUMA-Q strategy. IBM appears to
be tentative regarding where in the organization the NUMA-Q architecture
and systems should reside. Presently they are under the aegis of the Web
Server group, run by GM Rodney Adkins out of Austin. However, IBM's announcement
clearly played up that they consider NUMA-Q to be an extension of the
Intel-based Netfinity server line, run by GM John Callies. In many companies,
where a product "resides" is often a case of: in whom the "Executive Committee"
prefers to place their trust. We believe that both Mr. Adkins and Mr.
Callies are doing excellent jobs leading their respective groups, so the
management-quality issue is not a factor. This leaves it to the more prosaic
criterion of architectural "fit". Although we can see how the high-end
nature of the E410 might lean it toward the Web Server side, we believe
that the Intel nature ultimately tips it toward the Netfinity side - especially
as Intel processors and servers improve performance and robustness.
As with many high-end machines, this product is not for small shops. Although
the base price for the server starts at $69,000, it will cost significantly
more than that - upwards of $250K - to build a useful system. ("Useful"
here means able to utilize the power of the computer, as opposed to buying
an underpowered unit for the name.)
other area of concern is the OS: the performance figures quoted were reached
using the "DYNIX/ptx" operating system, the OS developed by Sequent. That
would be great, except that IBM has made it clear that DYNIX/ptx will
go away within five years - we believe it will be closer to two years
- to be replaced by Linux/Monterey. Because of this, we would like to
see performance figures for a non-dead-end OS. Until IBM provides more
useful figures, we cannot recommend this system for non-legacy applications.
However, once the non-dying OS performance figures are available, there
will be no strong reason for customers not to consider this system. As
with all systems, customers should review their needs and compare them
to the benefits such a system will provide.