IBM Fleshes Out Power5 Line

IBM upped the ante against rivals HP and Sun
Microsystems in the server market by adding
three new machines based on its Power5 processor, two of which can run
254 virtual servers on a single machine.

Capable of running Linux and Unix, the eServer p5 595 and eServer i5 595
64-way servers are symbols of the heft IBM has added to its Power-based
line, as they are both based on the Armonk, N.Y. company’s Virtualization

This virtualization technology allows
10 virtual servers to be provisioned on a single Power5 chip, allowing the
engineers to pack more computing potential in a smaller space.

Karl Freund, vice president of pSeries product marketing, said the p5 595
and the smaller 32-way p5 590 server were created to help
consolidate server workloads in the data centers of large businesses.

Part of IBM’s goal with its servers — and its overarching
e-business on-demand strategy — is curbing management costs. By allowing
applications from as many as 250 virtual servers to run on a single p5 595,
IBM believes it will help customers lower total cost of ownership. Sun and
HP are employing similar strategies in their server lines.

To understand the leap IBM has made from its Power4 architecture to the
Power5, the new p5 595 is roughly three times as powerful as the former
high-end pSeries 690, or Regatta. But the true test of its power is
determining how many opponents’ systems it can cannibalize in a data center,
as Freund underscored.

“This machine is a monster,” Freund told Taking
data provided by Ideas International and adding it up, Freund said: “You can
go into a data center and you can consolidate 15 4-way Sun Fire v480s and 15
4-way HP rp5470s, and still have room left for a Sun Fire 15K, 72-processor
machine and still have room left for an HP Superdome 64-way system.”

The likelihood that such a scenario would ever play out that way is slim.
But IBM’s point is well met. The 64-way p5 595, as promised when IBM announced
its first batch of 2- to 16-way Power5 systems in July, is a strong
offering at a time when IBM, HP and Sun are struggling for new customers in
the Unix space.

Gartner in August crowned IBM
king based on server revenue, as its market share increased to 30.7 percent
in the second quarter of 2004.

HP led for volume, with 463,489 units shipping in the second quarter. Sun
had the highest growth rate, with second-quarter shipments, increasing 38.4
percent from the same period last year.

Big Blue can begin to make good on its boasts when it releases its machines
Nov. 19. But the true value might be in the price-to-performance
ratio. The p5 590 starts at $745,000, while the machine it is geared to
replace, the p690, currently sells for $1.36 million.

Sliding up in scale, the standard 16-way, 1.65 gigahertz version of p5 595
starts at $904,000. The 1.9 Ghz version starts at $1.2 million. The 64-way
would come in at $3.2 million in the 1.65 Ghz or $4.1 million in the 1.9 Ghz
version. Prices include memory disks and 2 gigabytes of memory per
processor. The systems support AIX 5L versions 5.2 and 5.3.

Not to leave the iSeries platform out of the party, IBM aimed to show
balance in its Power5 refresh with a Linux-oriented counterpart to the p5
595 — the i5 595. Offering four times the juice of its iSeries 890, 32-way
ancestor, the i5 595 is the most powerful iSeries server available and
represents the completion of the 2004 Power5 i5 product line.

Base configuration for an 8- to 16-way is $603,000. Thirty-two- to 64-way
machines start at $1.4 million.

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