IBM later this month will begin shipping the second generation of its two-way server powered by Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron processor.
The eServer 326 will come about 18 months after IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., became the first top-tier OEM to support Opteron. IBM executives took the stage with AMD officials in April 2003 when Opteron was announced.
The processor broke new ground in the x86 architecture space by being able to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications. Since the chips launch, IBM has rolled out the e325, the IntelliStation A Pro workstation and a cluster package, the e1350, all based on Opteron. The e1350 will be upgraded to include the new system.
Like the e325, the e326 will target the high-performance computing space, where Opteron systems initially have gained the most traction.
The e326 will be optimized to take advantage of AMDs dual-core processors, said Alex Yost, director of IBMs eServer systems. AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., last week demonstrated four dual-core chips in a ProLiant DL585 system from Hewlett-Packard Co. The chips are scheduled to appear commercially in servers and workstations in the middle of next year.
IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. already offer dual-core capabilities in their RISC-based architectures, Power and SPARC, respectively. Intel Corp. will bring dual-core capabilities to its Xeon and Itanium processors next year.
In addition, the rack-optimized e326 will come with mainframe-like capabilities offered through IBMs XDA, or Xtended Design Architecture, Yost said. These features include high-speed I/O. integrated RAID and Calibrated Vectored Cooling, a system that lets IBM put more components in a smaller footprint while not increasing the thermal demands.
"Its about taking the latest technologies and maximizing them," Yost said.
Pricing for the new system will start at $2,189, about the same price as the current e325, Yost said.
Though IBM was the first OEM to jump on the Opteron bandwagon, both HP and Sun have adopted the chip more broadly. HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., is rolling out a line of ProLiant systems—from blade servers to four-way machines—powered by Opteron.
Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., is trying to gain a foothold in the volume x86 space with a growing family of Opteron systems. IBM officials have said they will offer Opteron systems as customer demand dictates.
Opterons growing popularity convinced Intel to offer its 32-bit Xeon processors with 64-bit extensions, called EM64T. Sixty-four-bit enabled Xeons for dual-processor servers and workstations were released this summer; the extensions for Xeons aimed at servers with four or more processors will be released next year.