IBM Plugs Faster CPU in to Unix-Based Servers

IBM is putting its 1.45ghz power4+ chip into its one-to-four-way eServer pSeries p630 Web server systems.

IBM is putting its 1.45ghz power4+ chip into its one-to-four-way eServer pSeries p630 Web server systems, the latest step in an initiative to outfit all its Unix-based servers with the new chip. The Armonk, N.Y., company in November equipped its eight-processor p650 server with the 64-bit chip.

The new chip brings greater speed—the server currently runs the 1GHz Power4 chip—to a system that includes dynamic logical partitioning to enable administrators to run multiple applications and operating systems on the same server. The server can run either AIX or Linux.

"Weve taken that same chip and put it into our entry-level server," said Jim McGaughan, director of IBM eServer strategy. "Weve brought it down [the product line] a little bit and now are setting new [benchmark] records for four-way systems."

IBM is retrofitting its servers with the Power4+ chip, making the low end of its Unix line much more competitive than it was two or three years ago, when Sun Microsystems Inc. was dominant in the space, said Illuminata Inc. analyst Gordon Haff, in Nashua, N.H.

"Neither company at this point has a clear advantage over each other, which is a gain for IBM because Sun clearly had that advantage two or three years ago," said Haff.

One capability that IBM offers that Sun cant right now is the logical partitioning via software, Haff said. Sun has some partitioning capabilities, but it is hardware-based. However, officials at the Santa Clara, Calif., company last week said they intend to soon offer software-based partitioning.

The p630 server, which comes in a deskside or rack-mounted configuration, is available now with the new chip, starting at $20,525 for a one-way system running AIX with 2GB of memory or $19,025 running Linux. The deskside system can run up to three partitions, the rack-mounted system up to four, and can run AIX and Linux on the same server, IBMs McGaughan said.

McGaughan said IBM will install the Power4+ into other Unix servers but declined to say when.