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IBM Spruces Up Unix Server Line

IBM Thursday moved to jazz up its Unix server line just a day after it revealed that its hardware sales for the third quarter were sluggish.

IBM hopes the improvements in its Unix server line will help bump up hardware sales, which have been sluggish industry-wide. The Armonk, N.Y.-based systems vendor's hardware division revealed some sluggishness in its third quarter earnings report Wednesday, as revenues decreased by 1 percent to $6.7 billion.

The company supplanted a 1.2 GHz Power4+ chip with a speedier a 1.45 GHz Power4+ processor for its entry-level p615 machines, and also made it available in "express configuration" formats, making the server easier to order and deploy than previous company offerings.

The new two-way eServer p615 server comes in the AIX 5L and Linux operating systems, which are offered as configurations of entry and mid-range pSeries servers at a lower cost than standard list prices. The 1.45 GHz chip is an upgrade over the p615's previous chip, the 1.2 GHz Power4+.

IBM also enhanced its high-end 16-way 670 and 32-way p690 servers, providing on-demand disaster recovery with pSeries Capacity BackUp Systems. Customers may access data backup at the click of a button and awaken dormant processors as part of IBM's company-wide promise to make its software and services function as utility computing for administrators seeking more control and lower maintenance costs. This feature will help customers raise computing requirements in the face of lost or limited capacity.

The company also introduced the pSeries High Performance Switch (HPS), which is geared to provide greater bandwidth and lower latency for p655 and p690 servers in the eServer Cluster 1600 environment. A cluster interconnect, HPS is designed to support bandwidth intensive applications in science and engineering, such as those for high-end quantum physics and computational chemistry. HPS supports up to 16 p690 or p655 servers, and will support up to 64 p690 or p655 servers in mid 2004.

Related to the HPS cluster interconnect is the IBM Cluster Systems Management (CSM) software, which is now available on AIX 5L on pSeries, Linux on pSeries, and Linux on xSeries. This software helps administrators install and maintain server clusters, providing remote hardware control, software updates, resource monitoring tools and automatic problem alerts.

Lastly, Ultra320 SCSI adapters, disk drives, disk backplane support and external storage subsystems are now available for pSeries machines, which transfers data using the SCSI over a bus at speeds up to 320 MBps.

Meanwhile, a recent IDC Q2 server report showed that IBM's Unix servers gained 5.2 points of worldwide share for the second quarter year to year, and grew revenue 20.4 percent, encouraging news in Big Blue's eternal battle for market share versus rivals HP and Sun Microsystems.

Pricing for the p615 AIX 5L models is as follows: p615 2-way 1.45 GHz Power4+ with two 36.4GB disk drives and 2GB memory is $12,495; p615 2-way 1.45 GHz Power4+ with two 36.4GB disk drives and 4GB of memory is $14,495; and p615 2-way 1.45 GHz Power4+ with two 36.4GB disk drives and 8GB memory is $19,495.

Pricing for the same power p615 AIX 5L servers in "express configurations" is $12,495, $14,495 and $19,495.