IBMs New eServer P650 Runs AIX and Linux Simultaneously

IBM last week rolled out what it says is the most powerful eight-processor Unix server in the industry.

IBM last week rolled out what it says is the most powerful eight-processor Unix server in the industry.

The eServer p650 is equipped with the latest version of the Armonk, N.Y., companys 64-bit processor, the Power4+, and features the same autonomic computing capabilities found in IBMs high-end server, the p690.

Those features include the ability to automatically kill and steer around faulty memory, which will lessen shutdown errors, and to reallocate processor power if a chip begins to fail, said Jim McGaughan, director of IBM eServer strategy.

The Power4+ chip was created with IBMs 0.13-micron fabrication process, which translates to less power consumption than previous processors, among other things. The p650 will offer the Power4+ with clock speeds of 1.2GHz or 1.45GHz.

A key part of the server is its eight-way partitioning ability, enabling enterprises to simultaneously use the server for different functions, such as for back-end enterprise resource planning functions and online transactions and as a Web server, according to McGaughan.

The server can also run IBMs AIX 5L operating system and Linux at the same time in separate partitions. IBM will offer native Linux support in the p650 in the first quarter of next year.

The p650 server, which will replace all three versions of IBMs p660, is due Dec. 6, with a starting price of $29,995.

IBM said it is hoping that price will make the product more attractive to potential customers who otherwise would have turned to Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. for midrange Unix servers.

McGaughan said the server can be used either by large corporations with branch offices and multiple divisions or by smaller companies that need to run their entire businesses.

Goodys Family Clothing Inc., which has 328 stores in 18 states, has ordered two p650s for its development and production groups.

Ken Boyd, MIS director for the Knoxville, Tenn., company, said Goodys had been considering replacing two nodes in its IBM SP2 system with p660 servers but had put off the purchase to save money.

"We held off on spending the money, and when we were ready to spend the money, I heard through the grapevine about this box that is 20 to 30 percent [more powerful] at $100,000 less," Boyd said.

An important part of the decision was the p650s support of AIX 5L, Boyd said. The applications Goodys runs already support that operating system, so making the move up would be easy.

"I literally have to pick it up and drop it in," Boyd said.