IBM Turbo-charges server

IBM Corp. on Oct. 16 unveiled its most powerful server ever in the multibillion-dollar

high-end Unix market in an attempt to overtake market leader Sun Microsystems

Inc.

The IBM eServer pSeries 680, code-named "Turbo," features fewer chips

for transaction processing than its counterparts from Sun and Hewlett-Packard

Co., said Scott Firth, IBM's director of eServer products. Its base configuration

costs about $420,000, but could ramp up into the millions, depending on

customer specifications.

"Any agency with a large database and a large number of people who want

to access it" could benefit, Firth said. "We haven't pinpointed any specific

agencies, but it's for any group looking to improve their infrastructure

for e-commerce and e-business and to get information out more rapidly to

citizens or employees of government."

The Turbo features include:

* 24 silicon-on-insulator microprocessors.

* IBM mainframe-inspired capabilities, including capacity-on-demand,

where customers can activate additional processors at their discretion and

are only billed at that time.

* CPU allocation, which automatically reallocates resources if impending

CPU failures are detected.

* Memory up to 96G.

IBM is also staking its claim that the Turbo server is superior in price

and performance to anything that Sun and HP will release in the near future.

The Turbo servers will begin shipping in volume Nov. 17, Firth said.

Sun's next generation of mid- to high-end servers, based on its UltraSPARC

III microprocessor technology, will begin shipping in the first quarter

of 2001, and pricing will be available then, said John Leahy, chief of staff

at Sun Federal.

Leahy said IBM's announcement should not affect Sun's lead in the Unix

server market. "If a product is years ahead of the competition, that might

be a [reason] for consideration, but that's not what we're talking about

here," he said.

The HP 9000 Superdome server will ship "by the end of the year," and

pricing will start at $400,000, according to a source at HP.

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