IBM announces eServer pSeries 615 server

IBM Corp. on Wednesday will boost the speed and reliability of its Unix server system line with the introduction of the eServer pSeries 615, also known as the p615.

Replacing IBM’s aging 1-2 processor p610, the p615 is the last of IBM’s pSeries reduced instruction set computer (RISC) systems to be upgraded to the Power4+ line of processors. IBM has been working these chips into its Unix server line since November of 2002, when it released the midrange p650 system.

“Our entry systems were getting a little bit long in the tooth, to be honest,” said IBM Director of eServer Strategy Jim McGaughan. “Now we have a portfolio (of systems) that are all on the same technology,” he said.

Unlike its predecessor, the p615 will let users hot swap PCI peripherals and turn off damaged or malfunctioning PCI slots without stopping the system, McGaughan said. The p615 will also boast a feature called “chipkill memory,” a technique whereby the system’s memory is flushed in the event of a memory error, thereby reducing the effects of an error “by a factor of 100-fold,” according to McGaughan.

Unlike IBM’s more expensive offerings, however, the p615 will not support logical partitioning, so customers looking to run more than one operating system at the same time will have to look to IBM’s next model up, the p630.

The new systems give IBM “a bit of an edge in the performance department,” over other RISC manufacturers such as Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., said Illuminata Inc. analyst Gordon Haff. However, he cautioned, “It’s unclear, for many of these applications, how important that edge really is.”

The systems could boost IBM’s appeal in small- and medium-sized businesses, especially in industries such as retail, where IT needs to create a single system configuration and replicate it on a large number of machines, said Haff.

The systems will run either IBM’s AIX 5L 5.1 or AIX 5L 5.2 operating system, depending on customer preference.

In its least expensive configuration, the p615 will list for US$5,740. At that price, IBM will deliver a single-processor system with 1GB of memory and 36GB of disk space, one 10/100Mbps Ethernet port and one gigabit Ethernet port. The system is available immediately. The p615 can support as many as eight ultraSCSI disk drives, according to IBM.