We count in tens because we’re human. Human beings have ten fingers. Simple.
But counting in twos is more efficient. Computers know this — on or off — and so they count in twos: binary. It’s a little more difficult for humans to do this, giving rise to the old adage that there are only 10 people in the world who understand binary, those who do and those who don’t.
It may be difficult, but it’s the right thing to do. Hexadecimal, or base sixteen, is another number system, and by coincidence this is a common standard for some blade manufacturers: sixteen blades in a chassis. But what is more efficient? Let’s take a look.
The new IBM Flex System chassis is 10U high, which means you can fit four chassis in a standard 42U rack. As with BladeCenter, there are 14 nodes, also known as IT Elements or ITEs. These are mounted horizontally, as half-wide units. The ITEs are wider/deeper than the nodes of the BladeCenter (57 mm versus 30 mm). This permits use of the latest high-powered Intel processor SKUs and also low-profile (LP) memory DIMMs instead of the more costly very low-profile (VLP) DIMMs. In fact, the ITE has 72 percent more real estate for components than 30mm blades and yet is only 6 percent bigger in board dimensions.
The efficiency of the power supplies is now measured in mid-90s percentages. This simply means that the AC power coming in is almost completely converted to usable DC power. (Anything not converted is wasted energy that contributes to heat in the data center). Less cooling is needed than before, which in turn reduces heat and power requirements.
Finally, sharing power, cooling, and network bandwidth among 14 nodes rather than 16 results in more proportionate and efficient use of these precious resources.
So what do you do with this system with its more efficient infrastructure, its more-capable processing nodes, and its enormous capacity for hosting virtualized machines? You maximize the capability to provide compute service to your users, over and above that of “standard” systems.
And isn’t that what it’s all about? You can count on it.