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IBM Rolls with New Unix Server

IBM Corp. Monday continued its server-side assault on chief rival Sun Microsystems Inc. when it launched a new midrange Unix server.

The product introduction comes just a few days after IBM was awarded the title of worldwide server market leader by research firm IDC Corp., which claimed Big Blue continued to hold its lead over competitors and was the only top-five player to increase its revenue worldwide, exhibiting 5 percent growth. The tech giant's market share is 26 percent to Sun's 16.5 percent share, according to the IDC figures.

IBM said it designed the new eight-way eServer UNIX system is geared for Web serving and Java applications, the system is well-suited for service providers as well as large data centers for major corporations.

The rack-mounted IBM eServer pSeries server is powered by 750 MHz RS64 IV processors featuring IBM's copper and silicon-on-insulator technologies, and is also bolstered with self-healing technologies inherited from IBM's higher-end UNIX and mainframe systems.

How does the eServer heal itself? The system's built-in service processor is designed to monitor system operation and take preventive or corrective action. Called Dynamic Processor Deallocation, it automatically reassign tasks from a potentially failing processor so applications continue to run.

The system also features what Big Blue calls Chipkill technology, which comes from IBM's mainframes. Chipkill is designed to ,well, kill memory-based system failures, a common causes of server downtime. If a memory error does occur, Chipkill is designed to take the faulty memory chip off-line while the server keeps running.

IBM, of course, professed superiority over other leading vendors, using benchmark wins to prove its point. These include the Java benchmark, where the p660 Model 6M1, equipped with eight processors, beat competing systems under 24 chips. In the Java performance (SPECjbb2000 benchmark) IBM p660 6M1 handled 15 more operations-per-second than Sun's twelve-way UltraSparcIII-based Sun Fire 6800, and 80 percent more operations/second than an eight-way HP 9000 N4000.

In addition to the "self-healing" capabilities, Big Blue has added another higher-end characteristic to the new midrange eServer -- Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD) capabilities. With this option, customers can add additional processors with a single command in IBM's AIX 5L operating system, which they pay for when they access the chips.

The p660 Model 6M1 starts at $61,995.