Hardware Today: IBM Server Snapshot

To sum up IBM's eServer offerings is a daunting task. Big Blue's four server lines span more than 10 processor types and a dozen operating systems, with some systems more easily categorized than others. To get a sense of its size, consider that IBM's xSeries line is one of four; yet, in and of itself, it is nearly three times the size of Dell's entire server stable.

From its midrange iSeries servers to its zSeries mainframes, and from its POWER-based pSeries servers to its Intel-based xSeries products, IBM's eServer portfolio has both breadth and depth. We look at what's new in the four lines and see what's on the Big Blue road map.

IBM's market share reflects the breadth of its offerings. According to IDC's sales numbers for the fourth quarter of 2003, Big Blue owned 37.9 percent of the market based on whopping 17.7 percent year-to-year worldwide revenue growth.

IBM's divides its offerings into four distinct server lines, which makes navigating its myriad of offerings easier. As our initial IBM server snapshot (published in October 2003) detailed the basics of each line, this Server Snapshot focuses on what has changed in the past seven months and where each line is going.

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In a nutshell: The iSeries are POWER-run, OS/400-based servers; the pSeries is fueled by AIX and Linux on POWER; the xSeries covers Intel; and zSeries system are mainframes that thrive in scale-up environments.

In recent months, the lines in the portfolio have begun to blur, bringing strategies pioneered by Louis Gerstner in 1993 to bear. "His vision," iSeries Product Marketing Manager Ian Jarman told ServerWatch, "was to exploit our technology portfolio more broadly across the company." The pending technological convergence of the pSeries and iSeries server lines is but one example. This open technology focus means some new servers will transcend the four current eServer categories, as is the case with the i5 520 and i5 570.

The chart below is an updated version of the chart that appeared in our original IBM Server Snapshot. Offerings added since October 2003 appear in bold; offerings being supported but no longer sold are italicized; and offerings that have been retired are listed in table footnotes.

IBM's eServer Portfolio at a Glance

Description Midrange servers Unix servers Intel processor-based servers Mainframe-class servers
Target Deployment SMBs and enterprise departments Data centers of all sizes Scale up and scale out x86 users
Large and midsize enterprises running mission-critical apps with no tolerance for downtime
Processor Type POWER-4, POWER5
JS20: PowerPC 970
P4, Xeon, Itanium-2 16 chip IBM Multichip Module (MCM)
Multiple-channel subsystem (MCSS) allows logical partitions (LPARs) which can run different operating systems
Processor Range Small to Medium: 1- to 2-way;
Medium/Large: 6- to 24-way
Entry: 1- to 4-way
Midrange: 2- to 16-way;
High-End: 8- to 32-way
Rack-Optimized: 1- to 4-way,
Tower: 1- to 4-way,
High-Performance scalable: 4 to 16-way
2 to 4 logical channel subsystems
Operating Systems i5 (V5R3), OS/400 V5R2, Windows, Linux, AIX-5L AIX-5L, Linux Windows, Linux, AIX, MVS, x86 operating systems z/OS, z/OS.e, OS/390, Linux on zSeries, z/VM, TPF, VSE/ESA
Servers Small to Medium:
800, 810

Medium to Large:
825, 870, 890,
i5 520, i5 5701
615 6C3, 630 6C4, 615 6E3, 630 6E4

650, 655, 670, Cluster 1600, RS/6000 SP


305, 306, 335, 343, 345, 360, 365, 382

205, 206, 225, 235, 2552

High-Performance Scalable:
4453, 450, 4554
990, 900, 800 5
Price Range6 Small to Medium: $24,281 to 349,515
Medium to Large: $574,224 to $2 million
Entry:: $5,095 to $15,820
Midrange: $26,895 and up
High-End: Contact IBM
Rack-optimized: $1,129 to $9,999
Tower: $499 to $4599
High-Performance scalable: Contact IBM
z890: Starts at less than $200,000
Others: Contact IBM
1The i5 520 and the i5 570 are part of the iSeries line despite the slightly different nomenclature.
2Five pSeries models have been retired from market since October 2003: the 610 6C1 and 6E1, the 640 B80, and the RS/6000 43P and 44P. 3The xSeries line also includes the BladeCenter product family: HS20, a 2-way Intel blade, HS40, a 4-way Intel blade, JS20, a 2-way PowerPC 970 blade, the BladeCenter (Chassis), and the BladeCenter T (Telecom Chassis); a variety of storage products and telecommunications servers, and the IBM Cluster 1350. IBM's Opteron offering, the eServer 325, is also officially sold out of its xSeries line.
4 The 445 replaces the 440.
5 The zSeries line also includes the S/390 G5/G6 and S/390 Multiprise, which are no longer sold but are still supported.
6 Based on IBM's posted prices.

>> Line by Line

This article was originally published on May 18, 2004
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