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IBM Introduces New Unix Server

The fastest entry-level Unix server on the planet? Well, maybe. The new hardware does promise low power consumption, self-healing technologies to maximize up-time, wireless system administration, and expanded internal storage.
IBM Wednesday introduced the p610, its latest entry-level Unix server. The two-processor system, which runs AIX 5L, is available in both rack-mounted and tower versions, and starts at $7,495. Linux availability is slated for 2002. But that's not all. IBM's Chuck Davis, program director of pSeries product marketing, insists it is "the most powerful entry-level server on the planet."

IBM's claim to "the fastest two-way server" is based on the p610's performance on the SPECjbb2000 benchmark, which evaluates Java application performance, especially in regard to Web-serving and database transaction processing. The new server also promises low power consumption, self-healing technologies to maximize up-time, wireless system administration (using a personal digital assistant), and expanded internal storage.

It's too early for Bob Sutherland, analyst at Technology Business Research, to judge IBM's assertions. Still, he says, "It wouldn't surprise me if that latest low-end server is among the more powerful available," as there's no doubt that IBM's core technology for the p610 is advanced. "They have done a tremendous amount to focus on investing in their processing abilities, whereas HP and Compaq have kind of given up that game."

However, Sutherland says, the p610 doesn't fill in any real holes in IBM's server lineup. Rather, it is part of IBM's overarching plan to nab Sun Microsystems' market share. IBM has made strides in that area, but not so much in the low-end, he says. In terms of low-end market share, IBM made a year-over-year 5% gain for the second quarter, according to International Data Corp. Research--rising from 10.3% to 15.3%. But that still puts the company behind Hewlett-Packard (20.8%) and way behind Sun (40.5%), which lost 3.3% in the same period.

In related news, 20-year Big Blue veteran (and British Aerobatics team member) Val Rahmani was promoted to general manager of the pSeries server group.