IBM has announced the launch of its 16-way xSeries 440 server, code-named “Man-o-war”. While IBM has got a 16-way machine out the door, it is not exactly the one that we were expecting.
Rather than running the forthcoming Whistler Windows .NET Server 2003 operating system, which supports NUMA clustering like that employed in the 16-way xSeries 440, the server that IBM announced this week uses Microsoft’s Windows 2000 Datacenter Server or VMWare’s ESX Server 1.5 partitioning software (which can house Windows or Linux operating systems in each virtual partition) to create the 16-way SMP configuration. IBM has clearly gotten tired of waiting for Whistler, and has worked with Microsoft to retrofit Windows 2000 Datacenter Server to scale on the Man-o-war box. The company is also clearly positioning the Man-o-war as a server consolidation box with the use of VMWare’s ESX Server, which allows each processor to be a virtual Linux or Windows machine.
Instead of waiting for Intel’s Gallatin Xeon MP chips to start shipping, IBM is building the 16-way version of the xSeries 440 initially out of the older Foster Xeon MP chips, which have slower clock speeds and smaller L3 caches. These Foster chips are supported in the other four-way and eight-way xSeries 440 machines. The Fosters run at 1.4GHz with 512KB of L3 cache, 1.5GHz with 512KB of L3 cache, and 1.6GHz with 1MB of L3 cache. IBM adds a 64MB L4 cache on top of this, and each Xeon MP chip has 256KB of integrated L2 cache.
A base 16-way machine with 8GB of main memory or disk using the 1.4GHz Foster costs $80,778. Using the 1.5GHz Foster, the 16-way machine with 8GB of main memory costs $103,178. The xSeries 440 with 16 of the 1.6GHz Fosters and 8GB of main memory sells for $152,778. A 16-way machine consists of identical 8-way machines (which are themselves matched four-way machines with special cabling and switching). All processors in the Man-o-war must be at the same speed and with the same L3 caches. The base server has six PCI-X slots, and an expansion chassis with twelve more such slots. The machine supports a maximum of 32GB of main memory. IBM says that the 16-way machine is available immediately, but it will probably take IBM time to find customers and ramp up production for the box.
In addition to delivering the 16-way machine, IBM this week announced support for the Gallatin processors in its eight-way xSeries 440 configurations. The Gallatins offer a significant performance boost over the Fosters, but are not yet shipping in volume. These Xeon MP chips come in three speeds: 1.5GHz with 1MB of L3 cache, 1.9GHz with 1MB of L3 cache, and 2GHz with 2MB of L3 cache. IBM is offering a preload option for Windows 2000 Datacenter Server on its eight-way xSeries 440 machines starting this week, and expects to start shipping eight-ways with Gallatins starting on January 14. On January 28, IBM will begin offering a preload option on its 16-way xSeries 440s for the Datacenter Edition of Windows 2000.
The base xSeries 440 machine comes with two processors and no memory or disk. Prices range from $16,099 for a two-way machine using the 1.5GHz Gallatins to $25,099 for a two-way using the 2GHz Gallatins. An eight-way machine with no memory using the 1.6GHz Fosters costs $72,399. The preload kit for Datacenter Server for an eight-way box costs $32,999, and the kit for a 16-way machine costs $65,999. A software subscription maintenance service for the Datacenter Server software costs another $22,159. All pricing on the xSeries 440s includes installation fees, since the machines require installation by IBM techs.