IBM s Power4 Sets Sail in Regatta - Page 2


New Server a Game Changer

IBMs launch of its most powerful Unix server yet increases the threat to Suns once formidable dominance of the Unix server market, according to industry analyst Brad Day of the Giga Information Group.

"IBM is getting very aggressive, and this server is a game changer," Day said. "IBMs making the argument that based on their microprocessor enhancements and new system technologies, their system can handle high-end workloads using fewer processors than competitors. That alone was a big threat to Sun."

The debut of the Power4, which will be integrated into other IBM systems next year, was eagerly anticipated by at least one IBM mainframe user.

"I hear its going to blow peoples socks off," said Robert Cancilla, director of corporate systems planning for Republic Indemnity Co. of America, in Encino, Calif., which uses several IBM mainframes.

"We dont use the P series, but we will probably be very interested in it when they ship the I series," he said. "From my understanding, theyve done some amazing stuff with this thing."

At the heart of the new IBM system is the companys Power4 microprocessor, a new design that combines two 1GHz processors onto a single die, along with a high-bandwidth system switch and large memory cache. The combination creates what IBM calls a "server on a chip."

The newly designed 1GHz Power4 represents a tremendous leap over its predecessor, the 450MHz Power3.

"The Power4 has got a number of advantages, such as 125G-bps bandwidth between the cache and CPUs, which is the equivalent of downloading 125 DVD movies in a second," said Dan Powers, IBMs vice president of enterprise server strategies.

The chips new design also provides the added bonus of saving energy, he said, an area of key concern when multiple processors are bundled together in a single box.

"This chip consumes about half the power of our previous generation of chips, as well as those of other Unix competitors," Powers said.