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Big Blue pushes speed with new servers

InfoWorld

(IDG) -- Wasting little time populating its newly rebranded line of eServers, IBM this week will roll out its fastest server to date, featuring the company's Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) technology, along with an Intel-based rack-mountable server.

Responding to the high-end server announcements made recently by rivals Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard, IBM's Unix-based p-Series 680, code-named Turbo, is a 24-way, copper-based server that incorporates several new capabilities borrowed from IBM's mainframes.

The system will target primarily larger accounts looking to host Web-based applications for e-commerce, but also other mission-critical applications such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management).

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"We think this is the fastest server available, but more importantly we are doing it with fewer processors," said Scott Firth, director of IBM's eServer products, in Somers, N.Y. "Many software companies today are charging you based on how many processors you have in a server, so if 24 can perform better than 64, that is a large savings."

Some users with the need for speed in running e-commerce applications are heartened by the recent announcements from IBM, Sun, and HP, believing the three companies' heightened efforts to leapfrog each other's servers in price performance can only benefit them.

"A lot of users don't make major server purchasing buys just based on speed, but it is nice to see these breakthroughs from top-tier companies," said Frank Moscowitz, a vice president of engineering at a large Houston-based oil company. "What is more interesting for us is the speed [a company] like IBM can get with fewer processors. That can save us some software dollars."

Starting price for a 6-way configuration of the system is $420,000, which is expected to be widely available on Nov. 17.

Separately, IBM last week debuted its first Intel-based server under its eServer brand, the xSeries 330, aimed largely at ISPs and other Web-based service providers. The aggressively priced unit, which can have either one or two processors, is intended to compete with the low end of Sun's server line, which has been popular among ISPs.

Besides being capable of holding two 1GHz Pentium III chips, the 1.75-inch-thick unit has a Level 2, 256KB cache, 256MB of memory, two PCI I/O slots, and three bays, including two that are half-height and hot-pluggable.

The 330 debuts a new cabling design from IBM, called the C2T cable chaining design, which eliminates 70 percent of connections with one digital cable when the system is used in a rack-mount configuration. It also replaces six keyboard, video, mouse switches, and associated cables per rack.

The C2T design enables ISPs to maximize their computing power and speed of deployment, and increase server reliability. One digital cable connecting each xSeries 330 replaces 53 cables and 282 connectors per rack.

"In testing [C2T] among users, [we've seen that] it allows servers to be installed in half the time it would take IT managers to install more traditional rack mounts. It's one of the big reasons why IT shops are interested in buying this," said Brandon Paget, product marketing manager for IBM's xSeries, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Priced at $4,500, users can order the system beginning Oct. 20 either with Windows 2000 or with several best-selling versions of Linux, including those sold by Red Hat, Caldera Systems, and TurboLinux.




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RELATED SITES:
pSeries 680 Product Page
eServers

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