IBM will today refresh its low-end xSeries Intel-based servers to take advantage of Xeon EM64T processors with 64-bit extensions, previously codenamed Nocona.
The new models are the x206 and x306 one-way servers, the x226, x236, x336 and x346 two-way servers, Bladecenter HS20 blade server and IntelliStation Z Pro workstation.
They replace existing 32-bit models suffixed '5', for example the x226 replaces the x225. In addition to new chips, there are architecture and software changes.
A key part of this is IBM's Xtended Design Architecture (XDA), including an advanced Calibrated Vector Cooling system to optimise airflow for the higher heat output chips.
XDA also includes Light Path Diagnostics, providing externally visible failure alerts on system modules.
All models run Red Hat 4 or SuSE Linux 9 64-bit operating systems. Windows 2003 64-bit support awaits Microsoft's Service Pack 1 release, now scheduled for the first half of 2005.
On all but x206 and x306, the option of PCI-Express instead of PCI-X expansion slots is provided for the first time.
An IBM spokesman told vnunet.com that reported problems with Intel's Lindenhurst PCI chip should not affect sales.
"The market is more than ready for extending the Xeon options," Tony John, eServer xSeries brand manager, told vnunet.com, adding that other xSeries upgrades would follow.
"Unlike other vendors [IBM] is not treating this as commoditised. It is also using this to take advantage of new embedded technologies," he said.
IBM Director 4.2 single-point management and automation software for IBM x , p and iSeries ranges has been extended to handle the new systems, while IBM TotalStorage now supports iSCSI and serial ATA disk storage arrays.
The Bladecenter is available immediately, with other xSeries models starting to ship later this month. The IntelliStation Z Pro workstation will be generally available in early September.
John explained that moving directly to Itanium 2 was a costly investment which is bringing major benefits for some, but that Xeon EM64T allowed lower-cost gradual transition.
"It has been 17 years since 32-bit was introduced with x386. Now 4GB memory is not enough. This finally breaks the technology embargo," he said.
Separately, Acer, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, Hitachi, HP and 50 others are also planning models based on the new processors, according to Intel.
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