RealTime IT News

Hitachi Agrees to Sell IBM UNIX Servers

IBM Corp. Tuesday strengthened its Asian presence by joining forces with Japanese electronics giant Hitachi Ltd. to leverage the manufacturing and development capabilities of their respective server lines.

The deal is a win for IBM and affirms the strength of its technology architecture, according to Brad Day, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc.

"This is really the first design win for IBM in the Power [Performance Optimized With Enhanced RISC] roadmap with any major Japanese company," Day said. "It is about the acceptance of IBM's technology architecture in the commercial space and its acceptance as a technical computing platform."

Day predicted that the release of IBM's Power4 microprocessors, expected later this year, will blow away current design thresholds. The Power4 design places two coupled microprocessors on the same piece of silicon and up to four chips on a small circuit board.

Under the agreement, Hitachi will add PowerPC-based servers and embrace AIX 5L -- IBM's UNIX -- as one of its strategic platforms for its customers. The servers will be sold under the Hitachi brand, and IBM and Hitachi plan future enhancements to extend the capabilities of AIX 5L-based servers.

"This is significant, and it speaks to the importance of an organization's ownership of both the server architecture and the operating system," Day said.

The relationship is intended to reduce expenses, improve product time to market and broaden the range of products offered. The two companies will jointly develop and manufacture selected servers, semiconductors and related components, including multichip ceramic modules (MCM) and memory cache components for use in IBM and Hitachi servers. The companies said future development efforts will include versions of IBM's PowerPC processors and selected chips that support Hitachi's VOS operating system. Hitachi will incorporate the chips into systems for its VOS server customers.

"This relationship will help IBM speed the growth of the IBM eServer line, enabling us to deliver next-generation infrastructure for the accelerating demands of e-business," said William Zeitler, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Server Group.

The deal could also indicate an aggressive move by IBM against UNIX server rival Hewlett-Packard. IBM and HP are vying for the second-place slot in the UNIX server market under market-leader Sun Microsystems. HP is Hitachi's current supplier and the major seller of Hitachi's storage systems.