IBM Cuts Memory Prices on i5 570s, Gives Disk Controller Upgrade Conversions
October 16, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
As part of the System i5 announcements last week, IBM revealed a new reduced-price 16 GB memory card for the i5 570. The company also announced that it was now allowing customers to upgrade selected PCI-X RAID 5 disk controllers to more recent models through a feature conversion.
When the revamped i5 570s were announced in January with the Power5+ processors, IBM offered two sets of memory cards. Most of the cards are based on 533 MHz DDR2 main memory, which allows the box to scale up to 256 GB of maximum main memory using 16 GB cards. To further boost the memory capacity of the machine, IBM also offered a rather pricey 32 GB main memory card that used slower 400 MHz DDR2 memory DIMMs. Ironically, this feature 4498 memory card cost more (presumably because of the expansion it enabled), coming in with a whopping $175,000 sticker price. That is close to $5,500 per GB. Using the faster 533 MHz DIMMs, a 16 GB card (feature 4497) cost $32,000. This is, at $2,000 per GB, a much better deal. But, apparently some customers were still grousing somewhere, because last week IBM announced a new 400 MHz DDR2 memory card, feature 4499, that has 16 GB of main memory but has a list price of only $28,000. That’s a 13 percent discount over the cost of the 533 MHz memory card in the same capacity. These slower memory cards can only be used with the i5 570 using the Power5+ chip running at 2.2 GHz. Customers can mix and match the 16 GB and 32 GB cards, so long as the DIMMs are running at the same clock speed.
IBM says that the slower clock speed of the main memory should have little impact on performance–assuming customers are not memory constrained.
IBM really wants customers to get on the latest PCI-X RAID 5 disk controllers, and is offering a new conversion upgrade to get them to do it. If you have a feature 2757 RAID controller card, IBM want you to move to the newer feature 2780 card. The feature 2757 card, which was withdrawn from marketing June 1, has 757 MB of compressed write cache and supports up to 20 disk drives; it has a list price of $7,200. The feature 2780 Ultra320 RAID 5 controller, also a PCI-X adapter, is its replacement, and it has a list price of only $6,200. This is a much better card in that it has an additional 1 GB of compressed reach cache and a battery unit that can be replaced without taking the i5 system down. If you have the feature 5581 RAID card, which IBM announced two years ago to provide a redundant write cache for the feature 2757 card, IBM wants you to convert to the feature 5580 card, which is a feature 2780 controller plus the auxiliary cache adapter. Feature 5581 was also withdrawn June 1, and has a list price of $6,995.
If you want to do either disk controller conversions–feature 2757 to feature 2780 or feature 5581 to feature 5580–IBM is charging $1,100. It costs $1,995 to add the auxiliary write cache adapter (which eats a PCI-X expansion slot) to the feature 2780 RAID card, by the way.