IBM Entry-Level Servers Aimed At HP, Sun Market


This week, IBM plans to introduce its first Power5 processor-based server tuned for Linux, an attempt to grab business from HP's and Sun's entry-level Unix market.

And last week, as part of a move to draw Advanced Micro Devices Opteron attention away from HP and Sun, IBM unveiled its second Opteron-based server. Big Blue also introduced a line of pretested, preconfigured Opteron-based clustered solutions.

Tracy Barney, vice president of IBM business development at Computer Tech, a Houston-based solution provider, said she's glad to see IBM commit to the AMD platform by extending its Opteron-based server offerings.

"We really, really liked the initial offering," Barney said. "As an [Intel] Itanium alternative, it is a great server--especially how IBM competitively priced it and positioned it as a low-end edge server. Put that together with all of the issues with Itanium, and it fits the gap."

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The Power5 processor in IBM's new eServer OpenPower 720 incorporates functions designed to boost Linux performance, such as improved cache coherency and data lock, thanks to IBM's close relationship with the Linux community and its 600-person Linux Tech Center, said Brian Connors, vice president of Linux on Power at IBM.

An option to the 720 server, which starts at $4,999 for a one-way model, also allows up to 10 Linux micropartitions per processor, Connors said.

IBM hopes to capitalize on what Connors said are customer concerns about Sun's commitment to Linux and HP's commitment to HP-UX Unix and PA-RISC processors.

On the Opteron side, IBM's new eServer 326 includes support for dual-core Opteron processors, said Alex Yost, director of product marketing for IBM eServers. Dual-core Opterons are expected in mid-2005, according to industry reports.

Yost declined to discuss IBM support for dual-core Intel processors. "This is a day to celebrate a lot of great Opteron news," he said.