CeBit: IBM targets high end of Intel server market

IBM Corp. aggressively attacked the high end of the Intel-based server market on last week with a series of hardware and services announcements at the CeBIT show in Hanover, Germany. The centerpiece was a 64-way system that uses the company's NUMA technology.

The new eServer x430 can handle up to 64 900MHz Pentium III Xeon chips and is capable of processing 688,220 transactions a minute, according to company officials. The company will push the system toward larger accounts looking to beef up their infrastructure to better run e-commerce applications. A typical system configured with eight 900MHz Pentium III Xeon chips, 4GB of memory, and 100GB of disk storage is priced at about US$160,000.

The servers can be "partitioned" into units of four processors each, which allows them to run multiple software platforms simultaneously, an IBM spokeswoman said. Platforms supported include Linux and IBM's AIX, and will include Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 Datacenter when the latest version of that operating system ships, the company said.

IBM also took the wraps from three other Intel-based servers, two of which are four- way including the xSeries x250 and x350, with the third being the x370 capable of housing eight Pentium III Xeon chips.

An eServer x250 configured with two 700MHz Xeon processors, 1GB of memory, 72GB of storage, a 10/100 Ethernet adapter, and a Windows 2000 Server license is priced at about $13,500, IBM said. A similarly configured eServer x350 with 54GB of storage and two 10/100 Ethernet adapters is priced at about $14,500. An eServer x370 configured with four 700MHz Pentium III Xeons, 2GB of memory, 36GB of storage, two 10/100 Ethernet adapters, and a Windows 2000 Server license is priced at $35,500, IBM said.

Also announced was a series of storage options aimed at enterprise-level users including an internal LTO (Linear Tape Open) and SDLT (Super Digital Linear Tape) drives.

In concert with the hardware announcements, IBM is announcing a series of service support programs for Microsoft's Windows 2000 DataCenter Server, underlining the company's already strong commitment to that operating system. The new services are aimed at helping corporate users test, install, and maintain mission-critical applications for Windows 2000.

''The net-net of this [announcement] is we are taking an aggressive approach to accelerate the adoption of high-end Intel servers and we are leveraging Windows Data Server to do that," said Jim Gargen, vice president of IBM's eServer X Series of servers in Raleigh, N.C.

IBM will be taking several mainframe-level services offered by the company's Global Service organization and making them available on Windows 2000 Data Center. Such services include disaster recovery, testing services, and high-availability guarantees up to 99.99 percent availability covering both the hardware and the operating system.

Big Blue has joined with Intel and Microsoft to create a new performance benchmark that measures that a cluster of xSeries Pentium III Xeon chips running Windows Datacenter can rival various higher-end proprietary server platforms.

Code-named SuperNova, IBM claims it processed 688,220 transactions a minute using a cluster of 32 x370 servers, each with eight 900MHz Pentium III processors running DataCenter and Microsoft's SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition.

The announcements represent just the first step as part of a concerted effort to better establish its Intel-based servers in corporate accounts. For instance, IBM plans to refresh many of its servers later this year with the Pentium 4 chip.

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