by June 30, 2004 0 comments



There are four servers in the high-end AlphaServer range, called the GS series. These are based on the well-known Alpha processor. The highest-end server of the lot supports up to 64 Alpha processors, and its architecture is completely different from the remaining three. While this one is based on the Alpha EV7 1.15 GHz processor, the others are all based on the Alpha EV68 1.224 GHz processors. We’ll not look at the architecture of the 1280; instead focus on the remaining three, as their architectures are similar. 

The architecture of the GS series is based on Quad Building Block or QBB, with each QBB containing four system components, that is, memory, processors, I/O and Global Port. These are interconnected through a switch. Each QBB contains four processors and memory modules, one I/O port and one GP (Global Port). The I/O port connects to the PCI box, while the GP is used for communication between adjacent QBBs in the same system box. The interface between two GPs is called a distribution board. Further, if you need to connect two system boxes, then the GPs of each QBB are connected through a hierarchical switch. Each CPU in a CBB is offered a bandwidth of up to 1.75 GB per sec. 

QBB is the basic building block for AlphaServer and contains four CPUs

The GS architecture supports hot swapping of processors, I/O sub systems and power supplies. CPUs can be upgraded while the applications are running. There is remote I/O support in which I/O buses are placed in separated racks. This allows you to place I/O sub systems with reduced cabling problems. The server also supports partitioning and allows you to have multiple instances of Tru64 UNIX or Open VMS OSs running.

Each GS series server is made of a system and power box. In the basic model, both power and system boxes are within the same unit. With the higher versions, the number of system and power boxes increases. For instance, the GS80 consists of only one cabinet, which holds the system and power cabinet. It can hold up to one system box (two QBB) and one PCI box.

GS160 system can hold up to two system boxes (four QBB) while GS320 can hold up to four system boxes (eight
QBB).

There is a separate power cabinet in QS160 and QS320 for holding power components. System boxes can be added by connecting additional system cabinets. An expander cabinet can also be connected for having additional PCI boxes or storage
devices.

The GS series support a large number of storage devices, such as Ultra3, Ultra SCSI and fiber-channel communication. Fiber channel enables much faster data transfer for high bandwidth applications such as datawarehousing and business intelligence.

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