New IBM Server Sports Faster Chips

IBM claims the eServer p650 is the most powerful eight-processor Unix server in the industry.

IBM Monday 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 its 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 means it consumes less power than previous processors. The p650 will offer the P4+ with clock speeds of either 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, McGaughan said.

The server also can 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.

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.-based chain, 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 the AIX 5L OS, 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," he said.

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

"We are going to put a very aggressive price and IBMs most powerful processor to work," McGaughan said. "Were delivering everything a customer wants at a price theyre not expecting."

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