A few days ago i bought an i7 920 for my computer at home. The performance is absolutely astonishing, compared to the AMD X2 CPU i had before. Especially VMs perform very well on it.
The first Nehalem-based servers have already been released, and as always IBM is a quiet compared to other server manufacturers. However, today while looking at some support documents i saw that IBM finally offers downloads of IBM x3650 M2 and IBM x3550 M2 documentation:
I’ve now skimmed through the documents a few times and found several things worth mentioning – please note that i haven’t seen the actual hardware, so there may be mistakes here. If i’m aware of the, i’ll correct them of course.
RSA II Replaced by IMM
The RSA II adapter has been succeded by the IMM. The IMM is integrated into both the x3650 M2 and the x3550 M2, but certain features need to be enabled by purchasing a “Media Key”. This is similar to how HP handles this issue, except with a physical key. The Media key enables additional features, as described in the IMM User Guide:
In addition, IMM Premium has the following features:
- Remote presence, including the remote control of a server
- Operating-system failure screen capture and display through the Web interface
- Remote disk, which enables the attachment of a diskette drive, CD/DVD drive, USB flash drive, or disk image to a server
The x3650 M2 will support up to 12 hard disks. The x3550 M2 will support up to 6 hard disks. Only 2.5″ of course. I currently didn’t see much mention of SSD, but i’m sure both these machines will see SSDs during their lifecycle.
There are also several changes regarding the hard disk controller. The Onboard ServeRAID 8k made by Adaptec is gone. It will be replaced by MR10i and BR10i ServeRAID Adapters, made by LSI Logic. For more details about those controllers, see the ServeRAID Quick Reference. These adapters will fit into a special slot, and are no longer fully integrated into the system board.
This is a good thing – RAID controller troubles in the x3550 and x3650 always meant replacement of the system board, which could be problematic because it changed the various IDs of the system (most notably the MAC adresses).
* Memory is local to the CPU, meaning you will need both CPUs if you want to use the full 16 memory slots.
* Nehalem features a triple-channel memory subsystem, making memory placement interesting
* If you’ve wondered how triple-channel and 16 slots works, see the graphic to the right
More Ethernet ports
The x3650 M2 comes with 4 Gigabit ethernet ports. The x3550 M2 with two, but an option for an additional two without requiring a full pci-e slot. This is especially good when you’re using virtualization and need to segregate hosts or need the extra bandwidth.
UEFI & other features
UEFI is the successor to the common BIOS. This will get interesting – i have no real idea what to expect from this. I only know that WS08 supports UEFI boot directly, and that IBM will provide emulation for legacy operating systems.
There’s also an in-system USB port for running a Hypervisor directly from flash. The system also features an integrated TPM module, which can be used together with Bitlocker to provide full disk encryption in physically insecure servers.
An important Whitepaper from IBM about Transitioning to UEFI is also available.
Support for high performance graphics cards
The system board lists an 8 pin power connector for high performance graphics cards. The parts list also lists NVIDIA FX1700 and NVIDIA FX570. This might be needed for CUDA or similar applications.
I want one. According to my sources, they should be available for sale starting on the 21st of April. As of today, the System x New Generation information page is finally online.