Dataram Pushes Entry and Midrange Power System Memory
June 8, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
In the wake of its acquisition of Micro Memory Bank, a maker of memory modules for various servers including IBM‘s Power Systems and predecessor System i and System p servers, Dataram is ramping up its marketing efforts to sell memory modules to cash-conserving shops that want to move to Power6 iron or add some memory to existing machines to boost performance.
As most of you know, virtualized servers are more times than not memory or I/O bound, not CPU bound, and machines supporting online transaction processing workloads as well as a bunch of other infrastructure apps (as i platforms usually are), can often have more throughput extracted from them and also get a reduction in transaction response times by adding main memory to the box instead of doing a CPU upgrade. But IBM has very tight control over the memory market for Power Systems, particularly for the memory used in Power 570, Power 575, and Power 595 high-end boxes and their predecessors. Dataram has been offering memory for the entry and midrange Power Systems boxes, albeit somewhat quietly, and it wants to remind the i community to kick the tires on clone memory before shelling out the big bucks for Big Blue memory modules.
“Everyone knows that the new IBM Power6 enterprise models include Capacity Upgrade on Demand memory, leaving third party memory module manufacturers in the dust with no opportunity for ever selling an upgrade,” explains Mark Tosti, vice president of sales at the MMB unit of Dataram. “These systems are shipped fully loaded with memory and activated as needed, pinning the customer against the wall with no choices at time of upgrade.” This has been the case for a very long time, since the days of the AS/400, in fact. But MMB sells memory that is 100 percent compatible with the Power6-based Power 520 and 550 and the JS22 blade servers. (Specifically, memory for the 9407-M15, 9408-M25, 8203-E4A, 9409-M50, and 8204-E8A.) Here’s the pricing for MMB’s clone Power Systems memory:
As you can see, there’s plenty of money to be saved here. And as we previously reported, Dataram has been offering a try-and-buy program since January to get more customers to give its memory a spin. Historically, most server buyers have been jumpy about using clone memory, particularly in their production systems. And with virtualization being long-since established in the i market, most shops have only one system these days–instead of two or three from the days before virtualization–with perhaps a backup box if they have a high availability cluster. In any event, all boxes are critical, so the chance to play with cheaper memory isn’t really there. But when you do a system upgrade and you have to take a box down any way, or if you are getting a whole new machine, this is one time when you can do this. The economic argument is compelling, as you can see from the table above. IBM has always contended that the main reason why its memory is more expensive is the qualification and testing it does, but I have no way of proving that, any more than I can prove that Dataram’s memory is as reliable as IBM’s. What I can tell you is that in my 20 years of tracking the AS/400 market, I have never heard of memory modules failing, and I have heard plenty about disk drives and controllers going nuts.
You will have to assess the risks for yourself. But if I was budget constrained and needed to goose my Power Systems box, I would give Dataram a call.