Copper Chips Boost IBM Hardware

IBM Corp. is hoping to turn copper into gold with the introduction of the first entry-level servers to utilize Big Blue's copper-wiring technology at this week's PartnerWorld 2000 conference, in San Diego.

The IBM RS/6000 44P models 270 and 170 Web servers are powered by the IBM-designed POWER3-II .18-micron copper processors, which until now have only been available in the company's enterprise-level S80 server.

"Copper has a fierce advantage over aluminum wiring," said Andrew Allison, a computer industry consultant. "It just about doubles the frequency. It also dissipates less power because copper is a better conductor [than aluminum], making the chip faster, cooler, and apparently cheaper."

IBM officials have confirmed that the over 400 meters of copper wiring in every POWER3-II processor is less expensive than using aluminum wiring, although the company did not offer any figures.

According to IBM, the RS/6000 44P model 270 became the world's fastest four-way Web server by setting a SPECweb99 benchmark record of 1,359 simultaneous connections. SPECweb99 is a worldwide server benchmark set by the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation, a Virginia-based nonprofit group.

Quik Internet, an Internet service provider and Web-hosting company, recently adopted the model 270 servers, scaling outward from its IBM H70 enterprise server network.

"We usually run 250 to 300 Web processes per-box simultaneously," said Jack Reynolds, president of Quik Internet. "In-house, we don't have the equipment to test for more than a thousand [simultaneous Web processes], but we've definitely hit that test ceiling.

"What we actually do here is run shared Web sites," Reynolds explained. "We take one [server] and put several thousand sites on that box. So every time we get, say, 5,000 virtual Web sites in a box, we add another box. And with 8GB of main memory in each Model 270, I can put twice the sites in one box, meaning I grow at a lower cost."

DaimlerChrysler has also begun utilizing the new copper technology servers as workstations to solve numerically intensive problems such as automobile crash simulations, IBM officials said.

"It's just a matter of time before everybody goes to copper processors," Allison said. "AMD has been promising copper Athlons any day now, and the only other company shipping copper is Motorola with the Apple G4, but IBM is a solid year and a half ahead of the nearest competitor."

Both models 270 and 170 can be attached directly to the IBM 2104 Expandable Storage Plus, an Ultra2 SCSI connection, which houses as many as 10 bays of drives that can range in size from 9.1GB to 36GB.

Pricing for the model 270 starts at $16,995 for a single processor system, and $35,995 for a four-way. A single processor model 170 starts at $10,495 for the 333-MHz-based system, and $15,495 for the 400-MHz-based system.

IBM Corp., in Armonk, N.Y., is at www.ibm.com.

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