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I heard a lot about S Blade or Blade Server and I have been googling about it. Below are my questions:

  1. What is S Blade or Blade Server? I heard that Blade server is like a multiple servers stacked inside it and each server is called S Blade? Is this correct?
  2. Why would people buy Blade server versus normal server? Is it more powerful? Is it cheaper?
  3. Are there any good articles explaining what Blade server is?
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Oct 9 '09 at 18:18

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5 Answers 5

mrdenny's explanation is really good. I will illustrate what he said with pictures.

This is a Sun blade chassis :

alt text

This is a 4-socket blade server, the connectors at the top are the backplane connectors :

alt text

This is a blade switch :

alt text

As you see, you plug everything into the chassis and it is very modular. Everything is connected inside with no cabling via special backplanes. You can switch out different modules as you wish and upgrade along the way.

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A blade server is a physically small server usally with a couple of CPUs some RAM, and a small hard drive which fits into a larger chassy which holds seveal blades. The chassy has the network cables, fibre cables etc so those are shared between all the blades. HP, IBM, and Cisco (umong others) all make blade systems.

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mrdenny has answered the physical part of your question but the main reasons people buy them are because you can get a lot more servers into a rack than any other way I'm aware of (including Rackable/SGI), they share PSUs and fans so they're pretty resilient, generally run cooler and use less power than regular servers.

If you're space, power or heat constrained then they're usually the way to go, they can be pretty cheap too and offer some very smart network/SAN options too.

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I believe you may be referring to IBM's BladeCenter S, here some info from IBM on it. http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/migratetoibm/systems/bladecenter/index.html

As for why you would go with Blades over conventional servers there are a few reasons.

  1. Space - You can fit more blade servers in a server rack vs conventional servers
  2. Cable management - you typically have a few cables to plug into your blade chassis, so it looks a lot cleaner
  3. Green - Most companies are sell blades based on their lower power consumption per server.
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Other reasons are shared resources; e.g. 1 CD-ROM, floppy, keyboard, video, mouse, power supplies, fans and a few other items across multiple machines. Management is typically easier and they are meant for remote management.

They also tend to be cheaper once you get > 6 or 7 servers.

I have 5 IBM BladeCenters spread across multiple data centers.

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