Unisys Adds More Intel Processors to Its Midrange Server Offerings

Unisys, which has tried to add more services and software into its product portfolio, is adding more Intel processors into its midrange ClearPath Dorado 4000 and Libra 4000 server systems. In addition, Unisys is offering an updated version of its high-end ClearPath Dorado 700 Series system, which competes against top systems such as the IBM System z mainframe.

Unisys, which announced a plan earlier this year that would offer customers more software and services, is reaching back to its hardware roots to update its midrange ClearPath systems with new Intel processors.

In addition to adding Intel's X7300 series Xeon processors to its ClearPath Dorado 4000 and Libra 4000 server systems, Unisys also announced Oct. 8 that it was updating its high-end Dorado 700 series system with its own proprietary CMOS processor. Within the high end, the Unisys ClearPath systems compete against the IBM System z mainframe.

The updated Unisys hardware comes after the company announced a major plan earlier this year to offer customers more software and services that are based on Unisys' years of expertise in the data center. For example, Unisys now offers customers a virtualization consulting service that will bring in engineers to repurpose older hardware to support virtual environments as well as offer management tools for IT administrators.

The revamped Unisys' product line also comes as the company is undergoing a significant management change. On Oct. 7, the company's board of directors announced that Ed Coleman, the 57-year-old former top executive at Gateway, would take the helm as Unisys' CEO. Coleman succeeds Joseph McGrath, who stepped down last month amid problems with a group of investors. Coleman helped to revamp Gateway before the computer company was sold to Acer for more than $700 million in 2007.

With the ClearPath Dorado 700 series, Unisys made a series of improvements in the I/O subsystem to address businesses that need additional performance when running transaction processing applications and database workloads. This system, which starts at $4.5 million, now supports up to 4-gigabyte-per-second fiber host bus adapter channels for high-capacity storage, which helps to offer about a 200 percent I/O performance compared with the older systems and can support heavier network traffic with an enterprise infrastructure.

The Dorado 700 series also supports as many as 32 of Unisys' CMOS chips, and a full system can be split into eight hard partitions, which each environment supporting its own operating system-in this case the company's own OS 2200.

In addition, Unisys added to its line of systems that use Intel processors. The company first adapted Intel's architecture in 2006 and introduced the first system in 2007. Both systems use the Intel quad-core Xeon X7350 (2.93GHz) processor, but the Dorado 4000 runs the OS 2200, while the Libra 400 runs Unisys' MCP operating system.

In the case of the Intel-based systems, Unisys has created a special firmware that works with the Intel processor's instruction set and allows it to work with the proprietary operating system, which had only worked with the company's CMOS chip. Eventually, Unisys plans to move to all Intel platforms, and this is seen as an incremental step. However, Unisys still has to support legacy applications built on top of its legacy platforms.

"We will, over time, go to pure Intel processors, but Intel processors don't deliver the performance we require yet," said Bill Maclean, vice president of ClearPath Programs for Unisys. "While Intel processors are very powerful, they are not powerful enough to address the caliber of applications that our customers run just yet. In that case, CMOS will be required until we have an Intel implementation that addresses the very high end."

In the Intel-based systems, Unisys has also built redundant power and cooling supplies along with mirrored memory to allow for high availability of the system in case of failure. In addition, Unisys has included integrated processors that will offload tasks from the central system to increase performance, along with a co-processor that allows the user to encrypt data. There is also a specialty engine called a JProcessor that will accelerate Java application performance.

The ClearPath Dorado 4000 will start at $498,000, while the Libra 4000 starts at $750,000, according to Unisys.

In addition to the new hardware, Unisys is rolling out new development technology to develop applications that utilize the company's MCP and OS 2200 operating systems. One is the 2.0 release of its Agile Business suite, which is aligned with model-driven development and allows for the development of applications for use in multiple operating environments, including MCP, Microsoft .NET and Linux.

The other development technology is dubbed Business Information Server, or BIS, which will work with the OS 2200 as well as support Linux and other operating environments. It can also be used to develop full applications.