IBM adds midrange server to Itanium line

IBM Corp. on Monday will add a second Itanium 2 server to its xSeries product line, a system it is billing as the first Itanium server from a major vendor to scale from four to 16 processors.

The eServer xSeries 455 will be built using the same Enterprise X-Architecture (EXA) chipset that IBM uses in both its x440 and x445 Xeon servers, as well as its other Itanium system, the x450. The EXA chipset allows users to connect as many as four four-processor blocks together in the x455, allowing the system to scale from four to 16 processors.

With 28 2GB Dual In-Line Memory Module(DIMM) memory slots per block, the x455 can support as much as 224GB of memory.

The system will ship with Intel’s Itanium 2 “Madison” processors, which come in 1.3GHz to 1.5GHz configurations.

The scalability of the x455 will make it particularly appealing to database administrators, who will be able to expand the systems as their workloads increase, said Jay Bretzmann, IBM’s manager of eServer products. “The most painful thing you can do is buy too small a database server,” he said.

IBM’s next Itanium system, a 32-way xSeries server, will be announced in the first quarter of 2004, IBM said.

Big Blue is not the only company to target the midrange of the server market. Monday’s announcement will come one week after rival computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. added new four-way, eight-way and 16-way systems to its Integrity line of Itanium servers. [Please see HP rounds out Integrity line.]

Also on Monday, IBM will also announce a new remote management option for its x445 servers. Called the Remote Supervisor Adapter II, the upgrade will let administrators remotely manage the servers using a Web browser.

The eServer x455 will ship on Dec. 9, with pricing starting at US$21,999. The Remote Supervisor Adapter II upgrade for the x445 will be available on Dec. 5 and will be priced starting at US$995.