IBM Servers Intro New Intel 64-bit Chip

With an eye on increasing its Intel-based server market share, IBM trots out a slew of new computing products.
Joining rivals HP and Dell in the race to develop infrastructure featuring the new 64-bit Intel Xeon chip, IBM refreshed its line of xSeries machines, adding cooling and virtualization features.

The company again honored its company-wide agreement to bring so-called mainframe-like technologies to smaller machines. Based on the Intel Xeon Extended Memory 64-bit Technology (EM64T) ''Nocona'' chip, the new blade server, workstation and one-way and two-way servers feature IBM's Xtended Design Architecture (XDA).

XDA, a ''mainframe-inspired'' feature package that extends the capabilities of IBM's current X-Architecture to the 64-bit environment, is geared to help the 32-bit to 64-bit extended systems access larger amounts of memory and lend more punch.

Sixty-four-bit computing has dominated the talk among chipmakers and server vendors in the past year, because OEMs are looking to satisfy customers' hunger for computing machines that can handle increasingly intensive applications.

Big Blue expects to lead the competition with the new products, according to Stuart McRae, marketing manager for IBM's xSeries eServers.

According to IDC, HP currently leads the market for Intel-based servers, followed by Dell and IBM. However, IBM has been the fastest growing Intel server vendor over the last eight quarters, IDC said.

''We believe from a technology perspective the 64-bit-enabled systems are a great thing for the industry and customers but will also be a turning point,'' McRae said. ''Customers won't necessarily be deploying those applications next quarter, but over the next 12 or 18 months they will, and it will have impact.''

McRae said the turning point is not unlike when the industry shifted from 16-bit to 32-bit computing a few years ago. He also said this means commoditization for Intel servers is over, creating new opportunities for server vendors to garner more market share.

One of the ways IBM intends to differentiate its gear from Dell or HP products is its Calibrated Vectored Cooling, a key feature from its XDA architecture. McRae said CVC is the market's most advanced architecture for cooling servers that get red-hot from running 24/7 and quickly pipes cooling air through the server.

New products fitted with CVC include a refresh of the BladeCenter HS20, which starts at $3,559 for a two-processor system with 2 gigabytes of memory and is the first blade to employ Intel's EM64T. It is available now.

New rack systems with CVC include the x336 and x346, which are intended to replace the x335 and x345. The x336 is a 1U (1.75 inches) rack that starts at $2,209 for a 2.8 gigahertz system with 512 megabytes of memory, while the x346 is a 2U rack priced at $2,339 for a 2.8 GHz system with 512 MB of memory.

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