Fujitsu Siemens Puts Pentium M in Blade Servers
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Partners Fujitsu and Siemens rolled out a new uniprocessor blade for the Primergy BX300 blade server this week. The new blade is based on the Pentium M processor, which Intel created for laptops and which is sometimes used in ultra-dense blade machines. The new blade server boasts larger main memories and faster clock speeds than the existing blades used in the Primergy BX300.
Fujitsu Siemens announced the Primergy BX300 with a two-way blade based on the Pentium III Low Voltage chip running at 1 GHz about a year ago. Because there are chipsets that allow two of these processors to be ganged up into an SMP configuration, Fujitsu Siemens tried to pack as many chips as possible into the box. The Primergy BX300 is a 3U chassis that houses 20 blades, just like Hewlett-Packard's "QuickBlade" ProLiant BL10e server, but Fujitsu Siemens has been offering twice the density of processors since HP's blades for the BL10e only support one processor. By the way, John Rodriguez, senior product marketing manager at the Fujitsu Computer System unit, in Sunnyvale, California (yes, that used to be mainframe maker Amdahl), says that the Fujitsu Siemens design is totally its own, and it is not taking the HP box on an OEM basis.
HP has not emphasized the HP BL10e much, and while it offers plenty of density, it had a relatively slow 10/100 Mbit Ethernet midplane, only one IDE disk per blade, and no attachment to outside storage area networks. The Primergy BX300 can have as many as four redundant Gigabit Ethernet switches per chassis, linking the blades to each other and to the outside world, and the blades themselves have two disk drives and an integrated RAID 1 controller for mirroring the operating system and data on each blade.
The new Primergy BX300 blade comes with either a 1.4 GHz or a 1.6 GHz Pentium M processor, 512 MB of main memory (expandable to 4 GB), and two 20 GB IDE disk drives (60 GB disks are optional). Each blade also has two integrated Gigabit Ethernet channels that hook into the chassis midplane. Each chassis includes redundant management blades and 1,200 watt power supplies--both hot pluggable. The Primergy BX300 chassis costs $4,900, and each individual blade costs $1,720 with the 1.4 GHz Pentium M, 512 MB of main memory, and a 20 GB disk drive. The two-way blade using the 1 GHz Pentium III LV chip could only support a maximum of 2 GB of main memory; with two processors, 512 MB of main memory, and 20 GB of disk, that blade costs $2,570. On a lot of applications, that single Pentium M is going to offer the same oomph as a two-way using the Pentium III LV. So you can see the price/performance advantage in moving to the Pentium M.
Both of the Fujitsu Siemens blades are available worldwide today. They support Microsoft's Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Windows 2003 Server; Red Hat's Linux 7.2, 7.3, 8.0, 8.1, and Advanced Server 2.1; and SuSE's Linux 7, 8, and 8.1. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 will soon be certified.