IBM Takes Wraps Off PowerPC-Based Blade System

The two-way BladeCenter JS20, due in March, will feature the 1.6GHz PowerPC 970 chip and will run SuSE AG Linux Enterprise Service 8 and Turbolinux's Enterprise Service 8.

IBM on Tuesday is unveiling its much talked about PowerPC-based blade system, giving the company both 32-bit and 64-bit offerings in the compact form factor.

The two-way BladeCenter JS20, featuring the 1.6GHz PowerPC 970 chip, will run both SuSE AG Linux Enterprise Service 8 and Turbolinux Inc.s Enterprise Service 8, according to Karl Freund, vice president of pSeries products and strategy for the Armonk, N.Y., company. It will support IBMs Unix flavor, AIX, in mid-2004, Freund said. It will come with 512MB of memory, and can fit in the chassis used by IBMs Xeon-based blade servers. Fourteen blades can fit in a rack, and the PowerPC 970 blades can work alongside the Xeon blades in the same rack, he said.

The JS20, announced at the Supercomputing show in Phoenix, will be generally available in March 2004, with pricing starting at $2,699.

"This is the first time that weve seen 64-bit [multiple processing] at a 32-bit MP price," Freund said.

The PowerPC 970, based on the same technology as IBMs Power4 chip, also is used in Apple Computer Inc.s Power Macintosh G5 desktops. Freund said the processors SIMB—single instruction, multiple data—capabilities enable users to run applications more quickly because more data is processed per instruction cycle.

The servers are targeted at the high-performance computing space, as well as such industries as financial services and life sciences.

In a related move, IBM also is announcing the BladeCenter for Bioinformatics. The offering includes such applications as BLAST, FASTA and HMMER, which have been pretested and ported onto the servers to ensure they run well on the system.