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IBM Chills Out with New eServers

For years, combatants in the heated server market have stressed the speed and power at which their latest products can render calculations. While this is no less important today, Armonk, N.Y.'s IBM Corp. , is looking for other ways to differentiate itself from its competitors Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. .

Big Blue has been especially busy blowing off steam since October, so to speak, with cooler servers, as part of a push to conserve energy needs in the computing sector and stand out among its rivals. Wednesday the firm added new p610s (6C1 and 6E1) to its eServer family that supposedly sucks up as much as 57 percent less electricity and expends 63 percent less heat than a comparable Sun solution, a 280R. Low-end systems designed for e-business tasks such as customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and sales force automation, the new p610s runs both Unix and Linux.

As for the energy conservation, the new eServers includes RAID 5 storage technology (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) inside the server cabinet rather than in a separate device, which eliminates the need for a second power supply. RAID allows a large number of disks to be treated by a system as a single storage device. More disks means multiple backups for data.

This integration of RAID 5 also lends credence to IBM's argument that a p610 is more cost-efficient for the enterprise than a comparable server from Sun or HP because customers who want to use similar products from those rivals must purchase an external storage device. For one, it takes up floor space. For another, outside storage devices add to noise levels and to electrical requirements.

"More than ever, our customers are interested in lowering their total cost of ownership," said Val Rahmani, general manager, IBM eServer pSeries. "IBM's new UNIX server combines energy efficiency and enterprise-class management features with ultra-fast performance to provide customers with the ideal synthesis of power and affordability."

IBM, it seems, has reason to feel confident about its server schemes these days. New statistics from Gartner Dataquest show that Big Blue server revenue in the U.S. increased from $4.7 billion to $4.9 billion in 2001, growth of 7.8 percent. Overall, the firm increased market share from 21.5 percent in 2000 to 29.3 percent in the weakest year for server sales in years. IBM posted 3.1 percent growth in sales for the Unix server market (still a distance second to Sun) and a 1.3 percent growth in Intel servers.

Available in rack or tower versions, the new p610s start at $5,995. Scheduled rollout is Feb. 22.