IBM holds web server bash

IBM is introducing a slew of new servers with new chip technology and software aimed at improving Web server performance.

Big Blue recently announced new models for its AS/400e server line that will take on Sun Microsystems' midrange Enterprise line of boxes. For instance, IBM is claiming the new AS/400 840 was able to run 108,153 messages per second, which it claims is four times faster than what the comparable Sun E6500 box can handle.

Boosting their Web serving performance, the IBM machines will have CPUs with copper wiring inside, letting them run faster and cooler than chips with standard aluminum wires. Additionally, the AS/400e CPUs also come with IBM's silicon on insulator (SOI) technology, a method of covering the transistors with silicon to prevent electrical leaks. This, claims IBM, will give the boxes a performance boost of about 20 percent to 30 percent.

Among the AS/400e servers being introduced are two entry-level boxes: the AS/400e 250 aimed at workgroups or remote offices, that starts at $US7,500; and the AS/400e 270, tweaked for Web serving, e-business and Java applications. It is priced between $10,000 and $50,000.

For medium to larger numbers of users, there will be the AS/400e 820, 830, and 840 models, priced between $30,000 to $1.2 million. The AS/400e boxes will be available by August.

IBM is adding software to these AS/400es that will let them support XML, which in turn will let devices such as cell phones or handhelds access AS/400 resources, IBM claims.

This August the next release of OS/400, V4R5. V4R5 will come with directory enhancements to support Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) V3, and support for Transport Layer Security (TLS), the latest protocol version of SSL, says IBM.

Copper wiring and SOI indeed do make servers run cooler and more efficiently, says Chuck Kuhlman, a senior engineer at ADC Telecommunications, a Minneapolis maker and designer of telecommunications software and hardware. Currently, his company has been using an IBM RS/6000 H80 with copper CPUs in it and he's been impressed by the results.

Both SOI and copper wiring "lets IBM bring out chips very quickly with a minimum of 30 percent to 50 percent performance improvement," he says. Even his biggest server run coolly with copper CPUs.

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