IBM Server Takes Java Crown

x3690 sets record for two-socket x86 server on SPEC benchmark

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ARMONK, N.Y., - 08 Jul 2010: IBM (NYSE:IBM) today announced the highest score ever achieved by a two-socket, x86 server on the SPECjbb®2005 benchmark.

IBM’s System x® x3690 X5 server, announced in March, clocked 1,015,260 business operations per second on the popular SPECjbb®2005, the SPEC® benchmark test used for evaluating the performance of servers running typical Java™ applications. (1) 

Designed to lower costs around acquisition, software licensing and storage for enterprise workloads, the results show that the x3690 X5 offers leadership performance for businesses running Java-based workloads. 

The x3690 X5, part of the eX5 portfolio of enterprise x86-based systems, is the only scalable two-socket server designed to support critical enterprise applications as well as external memory expansion. The flexible x3690 X5 can double memory capacity -- 3.5-times more memory than competitors’ two-socket machines (2).  Clients no longer have to add another processor simply because they need more memory. As clients’ business demands grow, the scalable x3690 X5 can expand to four sockets. With IBM’s eXFlash high-IOPS storage technology, the x3690 X5 offers the most SSD storage capacity and IOPS in the industry. 

The x3690 X5 can significantly reduce acquisition costs while improving performance, allowing users to run 82% more virtual machines for the same licensing costs (3).  Compared to competitive four-socket systems, the two-socket x3690 X5 can support the same number of virtual machines at half the license costs(4).  In database environments, clients can support the same number of users as a competitive four-socket server for half the licensing costs (5). 

The System x3690 X5 can also help to slash storage costs.  With the high capacity, high IOPS SSDs and eXFlash storage technology, clients no longer have to purchase large-scale external storage to run their databases. With just one eXFlash SSD pack, users get the same performance as 800 spinning disks, which makes the eXFlash 97% less expensive while requiring just 1% of the power costs(6).  The System x3690 X5 can support up to three eXFlash packs, for a total of 4.8TB and 480,000 IOPS. 

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(1) The x3690 X5 was configured with the Intel® Xeon® Processor X7560 (2.26GHz with 24MB L3 cache per processor—2 chips/16 cores/8 cores per chip), 128GB of memory, one 73GB disk drive, and IBM J9 Java 6 (using a 1875MB heap), and Microsoft® Windows® Server 2008 R2 Enterprise x64 Edition..Results referenced are current as of July 6, 2010. The SPECjbb2005 results have been submitted to SPEC for review. Upon successful review, the result will be posted at

View current SPECjbb2005 results at Java and all Java-based trademarks are trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc., in the United States, other countries, or both.

Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both.

SPEC and SPECjbb are registered trademarks of Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC). 

The x3690 X5 model using the Intel Xeon X7560 processor is planned to be generally available August 23, 2010. The x3690 X5 as configured for this benchmark will be available August 23, 2010.

(2) Competitive 2-socket Westmere EP systems support a maximum of 18 DIMMs.  A System x3690 X5 with MAX5 supports up to 64 DIMMs for 3.5x the number of DIMMs. 

(3) The competition system is a 2S Nehalem EP processor-based solution, using 8GB memory DIMMs. This allows the customer to run 175 VMs, and the virtualization software license would come at a cost of $7K.  The x3690 X5 with all 32 DIMMs installed will be able to run 320 VMs. So for the same license cost, each system being a 6-core processor, 2S system, both systems would have the same price, and the x3690 X5 would run 82% more VMs than the competition. 

(4) Comparing a competitive system with 64 DIMMs, to the x3690 X5 with MAX5 that has the same number of DIMMs. Both configurations will support the maximum number of VMs supported by the hypervisor. This is an exercise of showing a large number of VMs, and how each system will support the same number of VMs. When we max out the number of VMs the cost of the software license comes into play. For half the license price the x3690 X5 will support the same number of VMs as the competition, due to the amount of memory. In fact, in the lab we have found that for most of the configurations, even with maximum memory it is difficult to keep the processors utilized. 

(5) 50% license cost is based on a 1,000-user SQL Server 2008 database running on a System x3690 X5 with MAX5 vs. a competitive 4-socket Nehalem EX server. All pricing shown is Microsoft List Pricing as of January 2010, per the pricing information on  Pricing model used is per processor licensing which is based on $24,999 per physical socket on the server (logical cores are not counted). The SQL Server 2008 license cost for the competitive system is US$100,000 and the cost for the x3690 X5 is US$50,000. Users are based on memory capacity and the two systems support the same amount of memory. 

 (6) Based on a competitive solution of 10 servers + 80 JBODs + 800 HDDs + real estate + management + maintenance expenses vs. 1 eXFlash storage expansion with 8 SSDs.  Both deliver the same performance of approximately 330K IOPS and up to 3TB capacity.  Total in the table shows eXFlash is 97% less expensive.

Server hardware

$50k (5 addit’l 1-socket servers to run the JBODs)

$20k for eXFlash

Storage hardware

$328k (80 JBODs, 800 HDDs)

NA: No JBODs required

Data center real estate

$55k / year (5 racks, $115 / sqft)

NA: eXFlash integrated into eX5 servers

Data center energy cost(?)

$42k / year

NA: eXFlash uses eX5 server power supply

Maintenance cost(?)

$7.5k / year

$2.5k / year

Management cost(?)

$50k / year

NA: eXFlash integrated into eX5 servers

Total cost

$823k (3 years)

$27.5k over 3 years


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