HP’s BladeSystem server offering is quite extensive – everything from a 4 CPU Intel blade to an Itanium CPU blade, however their most well hidden, secret blade is their BL2x220c blade server. Starting at $6,129, this blade server is an awesome feet of design because it is not just 1 server, it is 2 serversin 1 blade case – in a clam shell design (see below). This means that in a HP C7000 BladeSystem chassis you could have 32 servers! That’s 64 CPUs, 256 CORES, 2TB of RAM all in a 10U rack space. That’s pretty impressive. Let me break it down for you. Each “node” on a single 2 node BL2x220c G5 server contains:
Up to two Quad-Core Intel® Xeon®5400 sequence processors
Up to 32 GB (4 x 8 GB) of memory, supported by (4) slots of PC2-5300 Registered DIMMs, 667 MHz
1 non-hot plug small form factor SATA or Solid State hard drive
Embedded Dual-port NC326i Gigabit Server Adapter
One (1) I/O expansion slots via mezzanine card
One (1) internal USB 2.0 connector for security key devices and USB drive keys
You may have noticed that this server is a “G5” version and currently has the older Intel 5400 series processors. Based on HP’s current blade offering, expect to see HP refresh of this server to a “G6” model that will contain the Intel® Xeon® 5500 series processors. Once that happens, I expect for more memoryslots to come with it, since the Intel® Xeon® 5500 series processors have 3 memory channels. I’m guessing 12 memory slots “per node” or 24 memory slots per BL2x220c G6. Purely speculation on my part, but it would make sense.
Why do I consider this server to be one of HP’s best hidden secrets? Simply because with that amount of server density, server processing power and server memory, the BL2x220c could become a perfect virtualization server. Now if they’d only make a converged network adapter (CNA)…
Cisco Nexus 4000 switch for blade chassis environments, I thought it would be good to discuss how IBM is able to connect blade servers via 10Gb Datacenter Ethernet (or Converged Enhanced Ethernet) to a Cisco Nexus 5000.
Other than Cisco’s UCS offering, IBM is currently the only blade vendor who offers a Converged Network Adapter (CNA) for the blade server. The 2 port CNA sits on the server in a PCI express slot and is mapped to high speed bays with CNA port #1 going to High Speed Bay #7 and CNA port #2 going to High Speed Bay #9. Here’s an overview of the IBM BladeCenter H I/O Architecture (click to open large image:)
Since the CNAs are only switched to I/O Bays 7 and 9, those are the only bays that require a “switch” for the converged traffic to leave the chassis. At this time, the only option to get the converged traffic out of the IBM BladeCenter H is via a 10Gb “pass-thru” module. A pass-thru module is not a switch – it just passes the signal through to the next layer, in this case the Cisco Nexus 5000.
10 Gb Ethernet Pass-thru Module for IBM BladeCenter
The pass-thru module is relatively inexpensive, however it requires a connection to the Nexus 5000 for every server that has a CNA installed. As a reminder, the IBM BladeCenter H can hold up to 14 servers with CNAs installed so that would require 14 of the 20 ports on a Nexus 5010. This is a small cost to pay, however to gain the 80% efficiency that 10Gb Datacenter Ethernet (or Converged Enhanced Ethernet) offers. The overall architecture for the IBM Blade Server with CNA + IBM BladeCenter H + Cisco Nexus 5000 would look like this (click to open larger image:)
Hopefully when IBM announces their Cisco Nexus 4000 switch for the IBM BladeCenter H later this month, it will provide connectivity to CNAs on the IBM Blade server and it will help consolidate the amount of connections required to the Cisco Nexus 5000 from 14 to perhaps6 connections ;)