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IBM Fleshes Out Power5 Line

By Clint Boulton (Send Email)
Posted Oct 15, 2004


IBM Friday upped the ante against server market rivals HP and Sun Microsystems by adding three new machines based on its Power5 processor, two of which can run 254 virtual servers on a single machine. Delivering on what it promised in July, IBM Friday unveiled its latest Power5 innovations with three new 32- to 64-way servers.

Capable of running Linux and Unix, the eServer p5 595 and eServer i5 595 64-way servers are symbols of the heft IBM has added to its Power-based line, as they are both based on the Armonk, N.Y. company's Virtualization Engine.

This virtualization technology enables 10 virtual servers to be provisioned on a single Power5 chip, allowing the engineers to pack more computing potential in a smaller space.

Karl Freund, vice president of pSeries product marketing, said the p5 595 and the smaller 32-way p5 590 server were created to help consolidate server workloads in the data centers of large businesses.

Part of IBM's goal with its servers -- and its overarching e-business on-demand strategy -- is curbing management costs. By allowing applications from as many as 250 virtual servers to run on a single p5 595, IBM believes it will help customers lower total cost of ownership. Sun and HP are employing similar strategies in their server lines.

To understand the leap IBM has made from its Power4 architecture to the Power5, consider the new p5 595, which is roughly three times as powerful as the former high-end pSeries 690, or Regatta. But the true test of its power is determining how many opponents' systems it can cannibalize in a data center, as Freund underscored.

"This machine is a monster," Freund told internetnews.com. Taking data provided by Ideas International and adding it up, Freund said: "You can go into a data center and you can consolidate 15 4-way Sun Fire v480s and 15 4-way HP rp5470s, and still have room left for a Sun Fire 15K, 72-processor machine and still have room left for an HP Superdome 64-way system."

The likelihood that such a scenario would ever play out that way is slim. But IBM's point is well met. The 64-way p5 595, as promised when IBM announced its first batch of 2- to 16-way Power5 systems in July, is a strong offering at a time when IBM, HP, and Sun are struggling for new customers in the Unix space.

Big Blue can begin to make good on its boasts when it releases the machines Nov. 19. But the true value might be in the price-to-performance ratio. The p5 590 starts at $745,000, while the machine it is geared to replace, the p690, currently sells for $1.36 million.

Sliding up in scale, the standard 16-way, 1.65 GHz version of p5 595 starts at $904,000. The 1.9 Ghz version starts at $1.2 million. The 64-way would come in at $3.2 million in the 1.65 Ghz or $4.1 million in the 1.9 Ghz version. Prices include memory disks and 2 gigabytes of memory per processor. The systems support AIX 5L versions 5.2 and 5.3.

Not to leave the iSeries platform out of the party, IBM aimed to show balance in its Power5 refresh with a Linux-oriented counterpart to the p5 595 -- the i5 595. Offering four times the juice of its iSeries 890, 32-way ancestor, the i5 595 is the most powerful iSeries server available and represents the completion of the 2004 Power5 i5 product line.

Base configuration for an 8- to 16-way is $603,000. Thirty-two- to 64-way machines start at $1.4 million.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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