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IBM is updating its high-end Intel server line a greater emphasis on virtualization.

The Armonk, N.Y., computer giant on April 21 unveiled System x, which will replace its eServer X Series.

The new x86 line takes on a similar moniker to IBM’s other server models, such as the System z and the System I. New models, including the System x3800, System x3850 and System x3950, will also come with virtualization switched on from the factory, where it had been off by default in preceding models. Otherwise, the machines are mechanically the same as models such as its xSeries 260, xSeries 366 and xSeries 460, including offering Intel Xeon MP processors along with IBM’s X3 chip set.

“They’re functionally equivalent,” said Jay Bretzmann, director of IBM’s System x high-performance division, in Raleigh, N.C. “There were no changes in the hardware per se, but have turned Intel VT [virtualization technology] to the default setting of on.”

The change is significant, in that it signals how IBM believes customers will use the machines in the future, he said.

Virtualization delivers choices aplenty, as well as the risk of confusion. Click here to read more.

Virtualization can be used to divide up the computing resources provided by a given machine, so that it can simultaneously run different operating systems and sets of applications. Thus it can do more work in parallel, versus waiting for a job to come along.

IBM, which works with VMware and Microsoft, who supply virtualization software, in addition to XenSource, found in research that over half of its x86 server customers intend to virtualize their servers this year. Thus it switched the technology on in the machines and also rolled out a new software tool, the IBM Consolidation Discovery and Analysis Tool, designed to assist in evaluation of where to roll out virtualization technology.

The company will tout the System x servers as having the capabilities to allow companies to move from larger numbers of single servers to fewer System x machines, which use virtualization to become more dexterous and thus get more done.

Whereas companies normally see about 10 percent utilization on a single server running a single applications—and virtualization promises to boost that number to roughly 40 percent—IBM says they should aim higher with System x.

“We’re telling customers to aim higher—go for 65 percent,” Bretzmann said, using more fully configured versions of one of the machines.

The three new System x machines, which come with varying hardware, range between starting prices of $4,999 and $17,499, he said.

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