IBM adds 64-way entry level server: Linux for Numa on the drawing board

Attacking the Intel-based server market from both above and below, IBM unwrapped two more servers - a 64-way Numa-Q server and an entry-level Netfinity system - aimed at smaller companies looking to host budding e-businesses.

Fuelled by Intel's new 700MHz Pentium III Xeon chip, the Numa-Q E410 is intended to take on systems such as Hewlett-Packard's V-Series for data-intensive applications such as data warehousing and business intelligence.

"We can now offer Intel technology from the entry level all the way up to data centre-class deployments," said Steve Frye, who manages the marketing the Numa-Q brand for IBM's Web Server Unit.

Company officials also announced their intent to deliver a version of Linux optimised for Numa servers. They hope to deliver a beta version by the end of this year, with the finished version sometime next year.

As part of that effort, company officials said they would try to adapt many of the technologies that make up the X Architecture, typically associated with high-end servers such as its mainframes and RS/6000 servers, to Linux.

One of the options the company is considering is a Linux-compatible version of Sequent's Dynex operating system. Company officials declined to say if and when they would deliver such a version.

Using IBM's clustering software, users can lash together up to four 64-chip servers, for a total of 256 chips and 256GB of memory, and reportedly not suffer any performance degradation, according to company officials.

Key to the new system's consistent performance and high availability is its multipath I/O capabilities and switched-fabric Fibre Channel SAN (Storage Area Network), which provides a platform with no single point of subsystems failure. Also enhancing performance is the system's direct connectivity to IBM's Enterprise Storage Server, which also features multiport capability that guarantees the even distribution of I/O input to all available ports, officials said.

The new two-way Netfinity 3500 M20 is targeted at small business or departments within larger accounts. The system is centred on the new 800MHz Pentium III chip. The unit features a 133MHz front-side bus processor architecture and 64-bit PCI.

The new system also contains the Ultra 160 SCSI interface, which IBM officials claim markedly improves performance for applications such as Web serving and databases.

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