IBM's New pSeries Servers: More Power, More Flexibility

By Kevin Reichard (Send Email)
Posted May 6, 2003


Borrowing a little from Hewlett-Packard and from its own mainframe division, IBM today unveiled a dramatic upgrade to its midrange UNIX server line that includes new pricing schemes and brings computing-on-demand to IBM customers in a number of ways. IBM's new midrange UNIX servers in the pSeries line offer scorching performance combined with a unique computing-on-demand capability -- allowing enterprises to use only the CPUs and memory they need.

The new eServer p690 system is built around IBM's 1.7-GHz POWER4+ processor -- the faster POWER4+ processor on the market -- and includes double the memory as the p690's previous incarnation as well as I/O enhancements and the doubling of LPAR support to the processor level, providing a 65 percent performance boost over its game-changing predecessor, according to IBM. These enhancements, say IBM officials, make the p690 a more powerful server than HP's Superdome at a lower price.

Similarly the new IBM eServer p670 features 1.5 GHz POWER4+ processors and the same enhancements as the p690 -- improved I/O performance and doubling of LPAR support to the processor level. 1.5 GHz.

These new servers will be available on May 30, 2003, with the p690 starting at $493,386 for a 8-way configuration and the p670 starting at $190,411. The new 1.5 and 1.7 Ghz processors will be available on the p655 beginning in late July 2003.

Finally, the cluster-optimized IBM eServer p655 is now offered with both the new 1.7 and 1.5 GHz POWER4+ processors and upgraded L3 cache, I/O and memory.

The product announcements continue IBM's assault on the midrange UNIX market. According to market-research firm IDC, IBM has nearly doubled its UNIX server worldwide revenue market share to 30.1 percent from 15.3 percent since the introduction of the eServer pSeries in October 2000. In that same period, both HP and Sun lost UNIX revenue marketshare.

"We have basically doubled market share in less than two years, thanks to a maniacal focus on performance and price," says Jim McGaughan, pSeries Server Launch Strategist. "We've made sure that the small 1-4-way systems shares the same advances that the big machines do. That approach has changed us from being also-rans to being tied for top of the heap.

"It's a real horse race, and I think we won the Kentucky Derby -- just like the other long shot did."

Brad Day, vice president at market-research firm Giga Information Group, says that IBM should show some startling performance enhancements when these servers are benchmarked.

"Basically, you'll see 64-way performance on 32-way platforms," he says.

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