Big Blue unveils faster, more powerful servers

IBM Corp. last week announced it will unleash three new servers – two pSeries and one iSeries – into the market which are based upon Big Blue’s newest and most powerful microprocessor, the POWER5.

The products will be available Nov. 19.

Designed for data centre consolidation and for large enterprises, the eServer p5 p595 scales up to 64 processors while the eServer p5 p590 scales up to a maximum of 32 processors. Additionally, users can partition each processor in increments of one-hundredths, said John Reed, director of client availability solutions at IBM in Rochester, Mass. Reed said the p595 is the fastest server they have yet, with a 32-processor p595 being able to process 880,000 transactions per second.

The p595 costs US$904,000 for 16 processors, US$1 million for 32 processors and just over US$4 million for 64 processors. The p590 costs US$451,000 for eight processors, US$745,000 for 16 processors and US$1.42 million for 32 processors. The pSeries servers run on IBM’s AIX 4.3 platform.

IBM said the new POWER5 servers can run up to 255 virtual servers on the p595, which can save users money, Reed said. This feature is courtesy of IBM’s new Virtualization Engine, he added.

For example, Reed said because a user can consolidate different servers running different operating systems, they can be managed centrally. This means companies don’t need to have as many staff dedicated to a certain technology, such as Microsoft Corp.’s Windows or Linux. Naturally, he said a company would want to keep some employees with those skills but they could spend more time working on other projects rather than managing the technology infrastructure.

Also, he said because the new servers are more powerful, users can run some of their applications on fewer processors. This would be an advantage if a company is paying a per-processor license for an application, Reed said, because they wouldn’t have to purchase as many licenses.

IBM’s pSeries runs on Big Blue’s AIX platform.

As well as the pSeries servers, IBM also announced the eServer i5 595 – a server with up to 64 processors that can run on IBM’s i5/OS, AIX, Linux, or Microsoft Corp.’s Windows. The i5 595 is four times faster than its predecessor, the iSeries 890 server that scales up to 32 processors, the company said.

The cost of the standard edition of the i5 595 range from US$67,300 to US$145,400 depending on the number of processors, while the cost of the enterprise edition ranges from US$136,9000 to US$231,800.

Matt Spies, a programmer and analyst with Amphenol RF in Brookfield, Conn., has been working with IBM’s iSeries for about 15 years. He’s seen the iSeries through its previous incarnations as the AS/400, System 38 and even mini computers.

Right now, Amphenol RF uses a one-processor iSeries 810, which runs the firm’s entire manufacturing and assembly business, Spies said. Amphenol RF – a subsidiary of Amphenol Corp. – makes radio frequency interconnect systems for the automotive, broadband, instrumentation, Internet, military, aerospace and wireless infrastructure markets, according to the firm’s Web site.

The firm uses MAPICS (Manufacturing, Accounting, Production and Inventory Control System) ERP software from Mapics Inc. to run its business. Every day Amphenol RF’s assembly team in Mexico, its warehouse in California and everyone from around the world who visit’s Amphenol RF’s Web site unknowingly interacts with the IBM iSeries 810, Spies said.

Spies prefers iSeries over the platforms of IBM’s competitors because it’s “reliable, extremely reliable,” he said. “It rarely breaks and IBM’s competitors in the PC and [Microsoft Corp.] Windows world can’t make that statement,” he added.

Although Spies said the iSeries 810 was easy to configure and install, he said he has an advantage over virgin users from the Windows world, because he has been using the IBM products for the past 15 to 20 years.

ISeries servers support multiple operating systems other than IBM’s Unix distribution, AIX, including Linux, Windows and IBM’s WebSpere.

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