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IBM's Itanium-Based Offering Quadruples in Scale

IBM joined the mid-range Intel Itanium 2 scalability party this week with the rollout of an IBM eServer xSeries 455 that scales up to 16 processors. Big Blue's announcement comes a week after HP rolled out eight-processor and 16-processor Itanium 2 boxes, bringing broader competition to the mid-range Windows systems hardware market.

The IBM and HP offerings join Unisys and NEC in the mid-range (eight- to 16-processor) Itanium 2 space. HP already had a high-end system, the HP Integrity Superdome, that supports up to 64 Itanium 2 processors.

Like HP, IBM brings a multi-platform emphasis to the Itanium 2. HP sells HP-UX, Linux and Windows Server 2003 on its Itanium 2 servers. IBM supports 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 and Linux on its eServer x455 systems, but has maintained its own RISC processor technology to run its AIX Unix business.

Prior to rolling out the 16-way version of the Itanium 2 xSeries, IBM began offering a four-way Itanium 2 version in its xSeries, called the eServer x450, in May. Those server chasses now form the building blocks for the new eight-way and 16-way systems.

The technology is based on the same "Summit" chipset that IBM uses to build its 16-way capable 32-bit Intel Xeon processor line of xSeries servers. Because of the higher heat requirements of Itanium 2 processors, the 64-bit xSeries servers aren't as dense as their 32-bit counterparts.

Jay Bretzmann, IBM's product marketing manager for the eServer xSeries line, says the eight- and 16-way systems represent a sweet spot for Itanium technology. "We think we're going to see a lot of enterprise-level database and SAP applications," Bretzmann says.

The 16-way capable eServer x455 will be generally available on Dec. 9. The price starts at $21,199. That's a drop from the original April list price of $26,000 for the eServer x450.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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