Dataram Sells Clone eServer i5, p5 Main Memory
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
As the prices of processors continue to fall, as performance continues to double every 18 months or so, the need for larger chunks of main memory continues to grow apace. While the cost per megabyte of main memory has come down considerably in recent years, modern servers require a lot of it to make the best use of the substantial processing cycles inside servers today. Memory is, however, expensive, and that's why companies like Dataram have carved out a niche selling clone memory for popular Unix and X86 servers.
Dataram, based in Princeton, New Jersey, announced that it has cloned the main memory used in IBM's new "Squadron" eServer p5 server family, and although the company didn't say so, it also means that it has cloned the main memory used in the virtually identical (in terms of basic hardware) eServer i5 line of midrange servers, too. If you search the Dataram site, you'll find it does offer such memory, in fact. Dataram has cloned the 2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB main memory cards used in the Squadron boxes. Dataram is supporting up to 128 GB of maximum main memory in the p5 570 and i5 Model 570 servers today, and says it has memory cards in development that will allow it to push maximum memory to 512 GB on these machines.
Many years ago, EMC and a number of smaller memory manufacturers (that have long since gone the way of all flesh) cloned the main memory used in IBM's AS/400 and RS/6000 servers, and they made a bundle selling against IBM, which had very high prices for AS/400 memory that was, for all intents and purposes, the same as that used in the RS/6000 line. With the Squadron announcements, IBM leveled pricing between the i5 line (which is the kicker to the iSeries and was the follow-on to the AS/400) and the p5 line (which is the kicker to the pSeries and was the follow-on to the RS/6000). OS/400 shops were finally getting an even break on memory pricing. Then, lo and behold, a few weeks ago IBM launched a variant of the Squadron boxes called the OpenPowers, which only run Linux and sport the exact same main memory modules but with a 42 percent price cut. By launching the OpenPowers, IBM may be creating attractive Linux servers, but it is leaving the door open for companies like Dataram to come in and sell main memory to disgruntled p5 and i5 customers.
Dataram says that it offers 100-percent-compatible 208-pin memory that will work in the Squadron boxes, and that companies can save "as much as 50%," compared with the cost of buying new IBM main memory for these machines. The company does not, however, sell its memory online, nor does it publish list prices. So it is hard to say how good of a deal it is (unless you poke around and find a reseller, like DataStorageDepot, which publishes prices). Here's IBM's list pricing on the 520 and 550 machines: 2 GB costs $1,700, 4 GB costs $3,550, and 8 GB costs $12,375. IBM's prices are slightly higher on the 570 boxes: 2 GB costs $2,600, 4 GB costs $7,040, and 8 GB costs $14,746. As of last month, DataStorageDepot was selling memory cards across all six i5/p5 Squadron machines for the same price: 2 GB for $721 (with a $943 list price from Dataram), 4 GB for $1,675 ($2,191 Dataram list), and 8 GB for $3,907 ($5,109 Dataram list). In some cases, Dataram memory is a lot less than half as expensive as IBM's main memory, and even rivals the prices IBM is charging on the OpenPower machines.