IBM will ship a new version of its pSeries 615 server next Friday that includes not only a faster microprocessor, but also a financial incentive to purchase the system with Linux rather than IBM's AIX operating system.
The enhanced p615 will come with IBM's 1.45GHz Power 4+ microprocessor, a bump in speed from the system's current 1.2GHz chip. The Power4+ has two cores, making the p615, in effect, a two-processor server.
The system will also be significantly cheaper to buy for Linux customers. Presently, an entry-level p615 with two processors running Linux lists for US$9,000, or US$1,000 less than its AIX counterpart. When the same system goes on sale with the 1.45GHz processor, the saving from Linux will more than double to US$2,500. A two-way 1.45Ghz system running AIX will have an entry list price of US$12,500, compared to US$10,000 for a Linux-based equivalent.
As a further incentive to Linux customers, IBM has ported its Cluster Systems Management software to Linux on the pSeries, said Jim McGaughan, IBM's director of eServer strategy. "We're hoping to get a lot of people to take the p615 two-way and put it in high performance Linux clusters," he said.
The incentives to purchase Linux indicate that the open source operating system represents a big part of IBM's future, said industry analyst Clay Ryder of The Sageza Group.
"This does (lead to) the obvious question -- what is it they really want to sell? It's very clear that IBM thinks Linux is a very important thing in the future of IBM," he said. "I think what we're seeing here is that this is another way to give the incentives for buyers to go to Linux."
The Linux pricing is also designed to make the pSeries more appealing as an alternative to servers based on Intel's Itanium processor, which have had some success in the high performance clustering space. "It makes us very competitive against the Itanium-based clusters. That's what we're shooting at," McGaughan said.
IBM also announced a flurry of pSeries enhancements this week, including support for the new Ultra320 SCSI (small computer system interface) storage interface, a new pSeries High Performance Switch for communication between pSeries servers, and a new disaster recovery option whereby p690 and p670 customers can purchase less expensive versions of these systems that can be used for disaster recovery.
The disaster recovery systems will come with four processors operational, and customers will have the option of turning on the rest of the machine's processors, at no extra cost, for a limited number of days per year. For example, a 32-processor p690, which has a list price starting at US$1.9 million, would be available for US$920,000 in this special configuration.