Processor: Rethink Your Position On Blade Servers


(October 5) It’s possible that when blade servers irst hit the scene, you were intrigued by their promise to pack more processing power into less space and the consolidation abilities available. For various reasons, including compatibility and pricing concerns, many enterprises chose not to initially implement blade solutions. In these areas and others, blade servers have made strides to the point that adopting a solution warrants reconsideration. 

Note The Changes 

Today’s blade solutions are based on Intel and AMD x86 processors, something Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, says translates into greatly improved system performance as those architectures have evolved. “In addition, with x86 systems driving so much growth in virtualization and cloud, blade-based solutions are playing greater roles in those markets,” King says. “In fact, several vendors are delivering blade-based solutions designed speciically for cloud and virtualization applications.” 

John Sloan, lead research analyst at InfoTech Research Group, says that when blade servers were originally introduced, their primary use was seen as being in highperformance computing clusters. “Their economical form factor meant a highperformance cluster (a cluster of synchronized servers running the same application) would have a smaller data center footprint. Limitations on processing, memory, and I/O made them less ideal for consolidation and virtualization,” he says. Blade servers also suffered from problems related to heat density, so “you could have a smaller footprint, but your data center cooling requirements would go up,” he says.


In recent years, however, Sloan says in addition to using powerful multicore x86 processors, blade servers have featured greater memory accessing ability and greater I/O bandwidth, traits enabling blades to be solid virtualization and consolidation platforms with strong market growth. “Blade popularity grew exponentially between 2006 and 2010, where there was a 400% increase in blade server adoption,” Sloan says. In 2009/10, he says, converged systems based on blades became the new market direction.

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