IBM Plans 32-Way Intel-Based Server

IBM later this year will begin shipping a 32-way version of the Intel-based server.

IBM, which late last year began shipping a 16-way version of its powerful eServer x440 system, later this year will begin shipping a 32-way version of the Intel-based server.

The x445 will ship begin shipping in midyear, in keeping with Intel Corp.s road map for its Xeon processor, Deepak Advani, vice president of IBMs eServer xSeries, said in an interview with eWEEK.

Currently, Intels most powerful 32-bit Xeon MP Gallatin chip—which is what IBM uses in its 16-way x440 server—is a 2GHz version with 2MB of Level 3 cache. The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker will release a faster version of Gallatin later this year. Advani said IBMs 32-way server will be powered by the faster chip.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., said this week that revenues for its 32-bit Intel-based systems grew 21 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002 over the same period in 2001, according to numbers from International Data Corp. Advani gave much of the credit to the x440 server, pointing out that it gave IBM a leg up on competitors.

IBM in December announced the 16-way Xeon-based x440, while Hewlett-Packard Co. in January began shipping its eight-processor ProLiant DL760. However, officials with HP, in Palo Alto, Calif., say the company will not use Xeon processors above an eight-way server, preferring instead to use Intels Itanium chips in systems with 16 or more processors. Dell Computer Corp. this year is revamping its eight-way PowerEdge 8450 servers with Xeon MP chips, but the Round Rock, Texas, company has no plans to expand beyond the eight-way space, officials have said.

Advani said IBM technologies give the company an edge in the Intel-based server space. The companys Enterprise X-Architecture has hardware and software features designed to bring performance-enhancing technologies from the companys mainframe systems into its high-end Intel-based servers.

The x440 servers also feature IBMs Expand on Demand technology, which enables users to pay only for the power they use, Advani said.

In addition, IBM is planning several upgrades to its XA-32 chip set, which also will follow along Intels road maps, Advani said. The next upgrade is scheduled for this summer, followed by another one at the end of 2004. Improvements will include larger cache and increased bandwidth.

Advani said IBMs x440 is being used for heavy-duty applications, such as transaction processing, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management, and databases.

"The workload [on the servers] continues to grow over time," particularly among the mid-tier companies, he said. "Smaller businesses view high-end Intel-based servers as their mainframes."

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