Faster Front-Side Bus to Power IBMs xSeries

Single-, dual-processor servers to offer Intel's fastest P4s and Xeons.

IBM is speeding up its line of eServer xSeries systems with Intel Corp.s fastest Pentium 4 and Xeon processors.

The single-processor x205 and x305 systems will be equipped with 2.8GHz Pentium 4 chips; the two-processor x225, x235, x335 and x345 servers will be upgraded with 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz Xeons, said Jeff Benck, director of the eServer xSeries. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is scheduled to make the announcement at its PartnerWorld show in New Orleans next week.

The 2.8GHz chips will offer a faster front-side bus—533MHz—than the current models. As a result, application performance could increase 5 to 20 percent, Benck said. The front-side bus is the vehicle through which data passes between the processor and its various components, such as the memory and chip set. Having a faster front-side bus speed will mean faster transaction processing, Benck said.

"It also will allow [customers] to do more [server] consolidation" programs by enabling servers to perform work faster, thereby reducing the need for as many of them, Benck said., which is part of eTrade Group Inc., in Menlo Park, Calif., uses x335 servers in its Web and application services. Joshua Levine, chief technology officer of eTrade and president of eTrade Technologies, said any upgrade in processor or front-side bus speed piques his interest. "Our applications ... rely on memory movement [and] bus speed," said Levine, in New York. "Any improvement in bus speed is a real benefit to customers."

Flamenco Networks Inc., a Web services infrastructure company, recently upgraded to x345 servers with 400MHz front-side buses for its hosted Web services management service. For Flamenco, a faster front-side bus speed would mean not only faster communication between chips and components but also faster response time for customers, said Corey Corrick, director of operations. "We run Oracle [Corp. databases] and BEA [Systems Inc.s] WebLogic" Web servers on the x345s, said Corrick, in Alpharetta, Ga. "We wanted the fastest speed possible."

The x205 and x225 and the x345 will be available next week with the new Pentium 4 and Xeon chips. The others will be available early next month.

IBM claims it will be the first company to offer its entire line of Intel-based one- and two-processor servers with the 533MHz front-side bus.

A spokesman for Dell Computer Corp., in Round Rock, Texas, said the company intends to keep pace with Intels product rollout but declined to elaborate on a timetable.

Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., already offers one of its entry-level servers, the DL360 G3, with 2.4GHz and 2.8GHz Xeon chips, both of which offer the 533MHz front-side bus, said James Mouton, vice president for platforms in HPs Industry Standard Servers unit. Both have been shipping since November, Mouton said. HP will also offer its two-processor blade server, the BL20p, with dual 2.8GHz Xeons starting March 11, Mouton said. Its one-processor BL10e currently features a 900MHz Pentium III.