IBM updates workstations with new CPUs, chipsets

IBM is upgrading several workstations and servers with Intel technology in an attempt to increase the machines' performance, IBM announced Monday.

The upgraded machines, which include IntelliStation workstations and eServers, are expected to ship in the coming months.

Two new IntelliStation workstations, the M Pro 6219 and the Z Pro 6221, will provide extra performance for demanding applications such as computer-aided design and video editing, said Rick Rudd, director of IntelliStation strategy for IBM.

The IntelliStation M Pro 6219 is a mid-range workstation, and uses a single Intel Pentium 4 processor. It will be available with Intel's recently announced 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor with hyperthreading, Intel's technology that improves the performance of systems running multiple applications simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the high-end IntelliStation Z Pro 6221 uses two Xeon processors, and is IBM's highest performing workstation designed for users interested in performance, Rudd said. The new systems will replace the existing M Pro and Z Pro workstations within 60 to 90 days, he said.

IBM is shipping the workstations with two new chipsets from Intel. The M Pro 6219 will feature the e7205, while the Z Pro 6221 will come with the e7505. Additionally, the Z Pro 6221 will be available with new Xeon processors with a 533MHz front-side bus, Rudd said. The front-side bus acts as the main conduit of data on a processor, and higher bus speeds mean increased system performance.

Memory from Rambus Inc. was dropped for the new versions of the workstations, Rudd said. IBM had previously used RDRAM (Rambus dynamic RAM) in its midrange and high-end workstations, but is switching to dual-channel DDR (double data rate) memory for the new machines, he said.

RDRAM is said to allow faster rates of data transfer within a system than conventional memory, such as DDR SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) used in most desktop PCs, but it is complicated and expensive, Rudd said. IBM's dual-channel DDR memory outperformed RDRAM in internal lab tests, and it was far more cost-effective to implement in the new products, he said.

The new systems will also come with 8X AGP (accelerated graphics port) technology, which allows the user to move large amounts of data through the graphics bus, speeding up the performance of 3D applications, Rudd said.

A base configuration of the M Pro 6219 with a 2.67GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 256M bytes of dual-channel DDR memory, a 36G-byte hard drive, and a DVD/CD-RW (rewritable) drive will cost US$2,335. With a base configuration including a 2.8GHz Xeon processor, 256M bytes of dual-channel DDR memory, a 36G-byte hard drive, and a CD-ROM drive, the Z Pro 6221 costs $3,189.

The M Pro 6219 will be available on Jan. 31, and the Z Pro 6221 on Dec. 6.

Neither of the workstations comes with a monitor, but IBM is selling the T221 monitor, a 22.2-inch TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor, for $8,399. It provides high-resolution pictures that designers and video editors often need, IBM said.

IBM also announced two new eServers Monday. The eServer x225 uses the new 2.4GHz Xeon processor from Intel with a 533MHz front-side bus and 256M bytes of dual-channel DDR memory for $1,529, but does not come with a hard drive. The other server, the eServer x205VL, comes with a 1.8GHz Intel Celeron processor, a 40G-byte hard drive, and 256M bytes of memory.

IBM also formally announced a Unix workstation that has been available through its sales force for about a month. The IntelliStation Power p630 is IBM's first workstation to feature its Power4 processor, and is designed for 3D visualization. It runs IBM's flavor of Unix, AIX, and is now available through business partners and direct from IBM for $12,495 without a graphics card.

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