IT Life

IBM Hurricane Blows Into Server Market

The Hurricane chipset, which IBM execs say is all about performance, is based on the company's X3 architecture.
IBM on Tuesday unveiled details of its Hurricane chipset, which the company hopes can replicate the success it's had with eight-way systems and ultimately flatten rival Hewlett-Packard in the four-way market.

"This architecture represents what we believe is breakthrough technology," says Jay Bretzmann, director of IBM's xSeries product line. The Hurricane chipset is based on the company's X3 architecture, the third generation of x86-based processor chipsets designed specifically by IBM for its xSeries products.

By utilizing the latest-generation processors, IBM and other server manufacturers can generally expect to achieve 20% to 25% generational improvements, Bretzmann says. The Hurricane, however, provides a 38% improvement over the previous generation xSeries chipsets, he says.

"The reason we were able to do this is because we focused solely on performance with this generation design," Bretzmann says. "In previous generations we worked on functionality, adding new features, and reliability characteristics, but this generation is all about performance."

The first product based on the Hurricane chipset is the eServer xSeries 366, a four-way Xeon-based system with EM64T memory addressing. The x366 is scheduled for availability within 90 days.

HP leads the four-way Intel server market with market share of about 39% in the third quarter or 2004, with IBM second at about 23%, according to research firm IDC. That's in contrast to the eight-way Intel server market where IBM had market share of about 59% in the third quarter of 2004, and HP was second with about 31% share.

"We are aiming for leadership share in the four-way market," Bretzmann says. "I think before the year is out, IBM will become the No. 1 vendor in the four-way space."

Bretzmann says IBM will introduce other xSeries servers based on the X3 architecture during the coming months, with intentions of scaling the architecture through 32-way systems.