IBM's research group unveiled a new technology last week which it claimed can effectively double the amount of memory in servers based on Intel processors.
Dubbed IBM Memory Expansion Technology, or MXT, the technology could help Internet service providers and large corporations save millions of dollars in memory costs, according to IBM. MXT may eventually be used in personal computers and handheld devices, but will be used initially in industry-standard, Intel-based servers such as IBM's Netfinity, the company said.
MXT makes use of a new cache memory design that allows data to be stored and manipulated in a computer more efficiently, IBM said. Cache memory refers to a kind of data reservoir that sits close to the microprocessor in a PC and stores frequently accessed information, leading to faster performance.
MXT uses a new compression technique that can squeeze computer data down to half its size, allowing it to be stored on memory chips instead of on a disk.
The technology effectively increases storage capacity by a factor of two for most types of applications, IBM said.
Using MXT, a typical rack-mounted server configuration based on Windows 2000 or Windows NT can achieve a memory capacity of 168GB with only 84GB of actual memory installed, according to IBM. With server memory selling for several thousands of dollars per gigabyte, a customer could save about $250,000 on a single rack of servers, IBM said.
Customers with a large computing installation, such as ISPs, that use multiple server racks, could see savings in the millions of dollars, according to IBM.
Smaller customers could also save money, since memory comprises between 40 and 70 per cent of the total cost of most NT-based servers, IBM said.
Big Blue, which demonstrated the technology at the recent PC Expo in New York, said it is looking at ways to incorporate MXT in its line of data-transaction and Web-application servers, in addition to storage subsystems and other appliance servers. In the future, the technology could be adapted for desktop and laptop PCs, workstations, and devices such as handheld computers and mobile phones.
Adding memory is a popular way to boost performance in computers. The new compression technique should also allow more data to be crammed into smaller devices, IBM said.
ServerWorks, which makes high-performance core logic chips for Intel-based servers, will incorporate MXT into upcoming, high-end core logic products under a technology sharing agreement that it recently signed with IBM.
IBM said ServerWorks has the right to sell MXT products to other customers, which should mean that other Intel server makers, including HP, Compaq and Dell, will be able to use MXT in their products.