It's A Bird, It's a Plane, it's Superdome 2 – ON A BLADE SERVER

Wow.  HP continues its “blade everything” campaign from 2007 with a new offering today – HP Integrity Superdome 2 on blade servers.  Touting a message of a “Mission-Critical Converged Infrastructure” HP is combining the mission critical Superdome 2 architecture with the successful scalable blade architecture.  According to HP’s datasheet for the Integrity Superdome, “The Integrity Superdome is an ideal system to handle online transaction processing (OLTP), data mining, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, database hosting, telecom billing, human resources, financial applications, data warehousing and high-performance computing.”  In other words – it’s a mission-critical workhorse.  Previous generations of the HP Integrity Superdome required a dedicated enclosure, but with this new announcement HP will enable users to combine Superdome, Itanium and x86 servers all in the same rack. 

Superdome 2 Modular Architecture

The Chassis
The HP Superdome 2 blade will consist of a new blade chassis which will be exclusively used for the HP Superdome 2 architecture.  From what I can tell, it appears this new blade chassis will hold 12 power supplies and hold up to 8 HP Integrity Superdome 2 blade servers.  It also appears the new chassis will offer an Insight Display like the HP BladeSystem c3000 and c7000.  Based on the naming schema, I’m willing to be HP will call this the HP BladeSystem c9000 chassis once it is released in the later part of this year, but for now it’s known as the “SD2 Enclosure“.

The server
Based on the Intel Itanium 9300, the blade server name that HP has chosen is “HP CB900 i2” cell blade.  Little is known about the specs for this server, but HP has announced it will be offered in 8 and 16 socket “building blocks.”

I/O Expanders
To the mix of the scalability, HP will also offer up “I/O Expanders” that will be available for the CB900’s to access.  Traditionally, I/O Expanders provide the PCI Express slots for the servers to access.  HP’s approach of breaking out the I/O slots into a dedicated chassis provides large I/O expansion, even for blade servers.  Again, the specifics of this component have not been provided by HP, but I expect for HP to release this info when the server becomes available later this year.

The Value
Why blades?  The blade architecture that HP has built provides a modular architecture so users can build a Superdome platform once and grow it as it is needed by adding I/O and cells (blade servers.)  Looking at the bigger picture, by using the already established blade architecture, HP is able to create a “common platform” so everything from workstations to mission-critical systems can use the same design. 

Using a common platform means lower cost for HP to manufacture and faster time-to-market for future products.  Not only will the blade chassis enclosure feature common components (power supplies, etc) be the same between the x86 and Superdome 2 offerings, but there will be common networking and common management as well.

Also, by using the blade architecture, the HP Integrity Superdome 2 blades can take advantage of the  “FlexFabric” – one of the HP Converged Infrastructure messaging that reference the flexibility of having granular control over your Ethernet and Fibre environment with components like VirtualConnect.

While I have doubts on the future of Intel’s Itanium 9300 processor, I commend HP for this Superdome 2 announcement.  It will be interesting to see how it is adopted.  Let me know what your thoughts are in the Comments section below.

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