IBM beefs up Intel-based server offerings

IBM Corp. added more muscle Friday to its family of Intel-based servers, releasing four new systems designed to help it compete more effectively against rivals such as Compaq Computer Corp.

The biggest of the new machines, the eServer x430, can use up to 64 of Intel’s new 900Mhz Pentium III Xeon processors and is designed for enterprise applications where scalability and reliability are crucial, IBM said. A typical system configured with eight 900MHz Pentium III Xeon chips, 4G bytes of memory and 100G bytes of disk storage is priced at about US$160,000.

The servers can be “partitioned” into units of four processors each, which allows them to run multiple software platforms simultaneously, an IBM spokeswoman said. Platforms supported include Linux and IBM’s AIX, and will include Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 2000 Datacenter when the latest version of that operating system ships, the company said.

Also new on Friday is the eServer x370, a rack-optimized, eight-way server that IBM said is suitable for applications such as SAP AG’s R/3 software, Siebel Systems Inc.’s eBusiness Applications and Cognos Inc.’s Business Intelligence suite.

To show off the performance of the x370, IBM, Intel Corp. and Microsoft built a server cluster code-named SuperNova. The system uses 32 of the servers each loaded with eight 900MHz Pentium III processors, and Microsoft’s Windows 2000 DataCenter and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise edition. The system can crunch 688,220 transactions per minute, which IBM claimed is fast enough to steal a TPC-C benchmark record from Compaq.

An eServer x370 configured with four 700MHz Pentium III Xeons, 2 G bytes of memory, 36 G bytes of storage, two 10/100 Ethernet adapters and a Windows 2000 Server license is priced at $35,500, IBM said.

IBM also released the x250, which uses up to four Intel chips and is designed for applications such as e-mail, messaging, workgroup collaboration and data mining, IBM said. The fourth new server released Friday is the x350, a similar server to the x250 that comes in a smaller, 4u (7-inch high) form factor designed to conserve space.

An eServer x250 configured with two 700MHz Xeon processors, 1G byte of memory, 72G bytes of storage, a 10/100 Ethernet adaptor and a Windows 2000 Server license is priced at about $13,500, IBM said. A similarly configured x350 with 54G bytes of storage and two 10/100 Ethernet Adapters is priced at about $14,500.

IBM said its Global Services group will help customers install the servers in data centers, offering system monitoring, on-site and remote technical support, proof-of-concept, systems testing and other services. The company also announced storage options including internal LTO tape drives and internal SDLT tape drives.

IBM, in Armonk, NY., can be reached at