IBM Ships Big Xeon Server

The 16-processor eServer x440 is expected to be used for server consolidation programs.

IBM has begun shipping the 16-processor version of its most powerful Intel-based server, the eServer x440.

The server, which uses the 1.6GHz Xeon MP chips from Intel Corp., currently can scale from two to eight CPUs. eServer x440, introduced in March, has been shipping in four- and eight-processor versions, but IBM officials said the 16-processor version will push the company beyond competitors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. in the high-end Intel-based server space.

However, officials with HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., said they will not go above eight processors for Xeon-based servers, saying they will use Itanium chips for 16-processor systems.

Jay Bretzmann, director of IBM eServer xSeries, said the "building-block style" server enables users to use what they need, and to buy more to meet demand.

"It is a modular, pay-as-you-grow type of high-end server," Bretzmann said.

eServer x440 can play a key role in server consolidation, which is becoming increasingly important to enterprises struggling with stagnant IT budgets, said IBM officials, in Armonk, N.Y.

Brad Day, an analyst at Giga Group Inc., agreed, saying he expected that more than half of the 16-processor x440s sold over the next couple of years will be for server consolidation programs. The other demand will center around mission-critical applications such as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.

Bretzmann said the server also carries two other key advantages: a low price and the capability of running either 32-bit or 64-bit applications. It also has chip set capable of supporting Intels Itanium 2 64-bit chip.

Enterprises will gradually move to 64-bit computing, Bretzmann said, but 32-bit applications will be around for a long time.

"Based on what weve seen, there is a lot of life left in 32-bit" computing, he said.

The 16-processor version starts at $81,332, about 75 percent less than comparable servers from competitors, he said.