IBM's long awaited high-end Unix server, which will go head to head with rival Hewlett Packard (HP) and Sun Microsystems devices, is now shipping. Codenamed Regatta, the eServer p690 has been five years in development.
Big Blue built the server with technology from its Project eLiza initiative, which offers multiple layers of 'self-healing' technologies allowing the system to continue operating even during component failures and system errors.
According to IBM officials the launch also marks the introduction of the company's Power4 microprocessor, the copper-based chip that contains two processors, each running in excess of 1GHz.
Val Rahmani, IBM's pSeries general manager, said that early customers are already relying on the eServer p690 to run mission-critical workloads, from enterprise resource planning and ecommerce solutions to computationally intensive scientific applications.
The eServer p690 comes with up to 32 Power4 processors and can be configured as an 8-, 16-, 24- or 32-way model. It can be logically organised in up to 16 partitions, with each logical server containing from one to 16 processors.
Rahmani said that customers are leaning toward two configurations: an eight- or 32-processor model.
Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata, said that some of the features IBM has are "pretty sweet". "IBM has brought some of its mainframe expertise down to the p690, rivalling some technologies supported by Sun for several years," he explained.
The new server will compete with HP's Superdome and Sun's Sun Fire 15K Starcat which, according to Sun, will begin shipping within weeks.
IDC research has suggested that HP has edged out Sun to take the top position in both the midrange Unix server market for systems costing $100,000 to $1m, and the high-end Unix server market for machines that cost $1m or more.
Unix servers accounted for $29bn of the $60bn in total server sales last year, IDC said.
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