SAN MATEO (05/24/2000) - Attacking the Intel-based server market from both above and below, IBM Corp. today unwrapped two servers -- a 64-way NUMA-Q server and an entry-level Netfinity system -- aimed at smaller companies looking to host budding e-businesses.
Fueled by Intel Corp.'s new 700MHz Pentium III Xeon chip, the NUMA-Q E410 is intended to take on systems such as Hewlett-Packard Co.'s V-Series for data-intensive applications such as data warehousing and business intelligence.
"The thrust of this announcement is we can now offer Intel technology from the entry level all the way up to data center-class deployments. If you want to go from two to 64 chips in a single unit from a single vendor, we can offer that," 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 optimized for NUMA servers. They hope to deliver a beta version by the end of this year, with the finished version sometime next year.
"We are devoting engineering resources now to exploring what types of technologies we need and how quickly we can drive up the reliability and scalability that corporate data centers would require of Linux," Frye said.
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 way to look at it would be as our attempt to do X Architecture for Linux," said Jay Bretzman, IBM's manager for Netfinity strategy. "We want to take the expertise from IBM servers and port Linux applications so they can mature at a faster rate than they would otherwise."
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 centered around 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.
Pricing for the NUMA Q E410 is $73,000. The Netfinity 3500 M20 is priced at $1,830.
IBM Corp., based in Armonk, New York, is at www.ibm.com.
Ed Scannell is an InfoWorld editor at large. Dan Neel is an InfoWorld reporter.