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3Leaf Promises To Show You Real Virtualization

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3Leaf Promises To Show You Real Virtualization

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3Leaf Systems, the four-year-old start-up that has raised $32.5 million in funding – some of it from Intel – is promising – once it gets all its ducks in a row – to virtualize the whole x86 data center infrastructure – memory, CPU and I/O.

Such a feat, it says, has never been done before and is “truly disruptive.”

It’s supposed to wring mainframe-class availability, scalability and resiliency from commodity servers, saving the world from wasting something like $140 billion on unused server resources, a factor of currently normal over-provisioning. (You know how those x86 rascals only run at 10%-15% utilization.)

It will also give data centers the just-in-time on-demand allocation they crave to handle the spikes in traffic by creating a pool of servers resources that can be allocated and de-allocated as needed, giving applications and operating systems what they need as they need it.

Right now 3Leaf’s prepared to do I/O, with something it calls the V-8000 Virtual I/O Server that replaces conventional network interface cards (NICs) and host bus adapters (HBAs) with virtualized network and storage interfaces, teasing a single network connection into acting as though it were many.

Virtualizing I/O alone, it says, can cut the number of NICs and HBAs by up to 85%, the number of Ethernet and Fibre Channel switch ports by up to 80% and the number of confounded cables by up to 70%.

3Leaf says it means 80% fewer standby servers, offers full redundancy along the entire data path and can lower CAPEX and OPEX by 50% over three years.

Virtualizing memory and CPU too is going to take a little longer and involve exploiting the company’s existing HyperTransport license with AMD and its shiny new QuickPath Interconnect license with Intel and designing proprietary ASICs that turn a litter of stray x86 servers into what is basically a newfangled 16-way symmetric multiprocessor using only one Linux or Windows image.

The widgets will establish cache coherent links between boards mimicking a 10 Gbit/s Ethernet or 20 Gbit/s Infiniband connection. Kinda like NUMA.

It says it will extend cache coherency across the domain from a single server to a bunch of servers – 64,000 of them, in fact.

3Leaf, which claims a four-five year lead, says it’ll take until the first half of next year to create an 90nm ASIC chip for AMD machines and a year later to have another one for Intel machines. However, it’s expecting to be able to beta its AMD part later this year.

Even so 3Leaf CEO BV Jagadeesh claims that right now that companies like Egenera only do a “subset of what V-8000 does.” The widgetry, by the way, has been in evaluation at Fortune 100 sites and is now with top tier OEMs.

Besides AMD and Intel, its partners include EMC, HP, IBM, Microsoft, VMware, Novell, Red Hat, SAP and Sun.


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