IBM christened the integration of its Power4+ chip architecture across its Unix server line Wednesday by releasing a new pSeries machine for the low end of the market. The move to the Power4+ from the Power3 architecture is IBM's bid to offer enhanced performance at a reasonable price, something toward which rivals HP and Sun Microsystems are also working.
The Armonk, N.Y. company said it has completed the integration of 64-bit Power4+ across its Unix line after six months and unveiled the p615, an entry-level machine IBM said it is 110 percent more powerful than the pSeries 610, which uses Power3-II chips. Ideal for running tasks such as enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, customer relationship management and business intelligence applications, the p615 effectively replaces the p610, but IBM said it would still keep up its production to serve existing customers.
Big Blue has already released the high-end p690 and p670 and the midrange p655, p650, and p630 machines with Power4+ technology.
IBM eServer Director Jim McGaughan said the feat of moving all of its Unix servers to the more powerful architecture in six months is a source of pride for IBM, but he noted that what customers will really care for is the value adds at a low price point. These features include more than one terabyte of internal disk storage so customers may run powerful applications without having to buy storage devices. The p615 can also be managed remotely using a wireless personal digital assistant or similar, Web-enabled wireless gadgets.
"All of reliability features are a constant across the product line," McGaughan said. "A 2-way system can dynamically allocate a single processor. There is failure capture, chipkill memory, standard redundant power supplies, hotplug PCI slots."
McGaughan would not reveal actual customers but he provided examples of some uses for the p615, which may be easily clustered with fellow p615s to add more punch. He said the p615 is ideal for the back offices of motels and hotels or retail stores, where customers can "throw it in a closet forget about it," because it can be remotely controlled.
IBM is positioning the Power4+ achievement against rivals. McGaughan noted that Sun and HP are still trying to shift focus to their Ultrasparc III and Itanium 2 platforms, respectively.
"I don't think any other vendor has migrated to new architecture at the same rate as IBM," McGaugahn said. "No one else has gone from soup to nuts -- from small to large servers -- in six months."
IBM offers p615 support for its Unix operating system, AIX 5L, and Linux. The p615 is available now at a starting price of $5,745 for a one-way system with 1 GB of memory. A two-way with 2 GB will be ready June 20 and is expected to retail for $9,995 for the AIX version, and $8,995 for the Linux version.
For those for which the excitement of Power4+ architecture has cooled down, McGaughan said they can look forward to the Power5+ architecture some time next year. While he wouldn't divulge exact features, he said the public could expect "faster hardware, better functionality, greater granularity, and improvements in logical partitioning."