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IBM Joins Sun in the Low-End Unix Server Space

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The entry-level Unix server space is getting a little more crowded.

Last week Sun Microsystems announced the Sun Fire V480, a 4-way UltraSPARC Unix server priced to compete with Wintel offerings.

Today, IBM unveiled the p630, a 4-way offering positioned between the p670 and the p610 that is a “mini-me” version of the p690, Jim McGaughan, director of product marketing for the eServer line told ServerWatch. With its “mainframe-inspired capabilities,” the p630 offers “all the reliability of the p690 at a lower price point,” McGaughan said.

Like the p690, the p630 uses the Power4 chip, a heat-seeker-engine-based microprocessor. At 1.0 GHz, the processor is slightly slower than that of the p690, but faster than the 900 MHz UltraSPARC III processor in the V480.

The p630 boasts some unique characteristics according to McGaughan. It is the first 4-way Unix server to feature Dynamic Logical Partitioning, the capability to dynamically reconfigure partitions without bringing the server down. IBM currently offers this capability on its mainframes and iSeries servers, and it supports logical partitioning on its larger Unix systems.

The p630 also features copper/silicon-on-insulator processors, chipkill memory, dynamic processor deallocation, and first failure data capture. According to the SPECweb99_SSL benchmark, a fully loaded (i.e., all four processors going) p630 supports 1,050 transactions, nearly twice as many as a V480, McGaughan said.

The p630 is expandable to four processors, 16 GB of memory, four hot-swappable disks and four hot-plug PCI-X slots. Enterprises can also cluster up to 32 p630 servers using IBM’s High Availability Cluster Multiprocessing (HACMP) software.

Footprint-wise the the p630 is compact. The 4U server fits in a 16-inch rack-mount configuration or a desk-side configuration.

Down the road, IBM plans to offer a remote I/O drawer, which will increase the amount of logical partitions that can be defined, as well as the overall number of hot-swappable disks and hot-plug PCI-X slots.

The p630 offers front access to major system components and cables as well as wireless manageability through a PDA or via cable through a console port.

The p630 will have a base price of $12,495, which is nearly half the price of the V480. However, the p630 comes standard with only one processor, whereas the V480 comes with two. The base package for the p630 also includes a CD ROM drive, 1 GB of memory, one 18.2 GB disk drive, and AIX 5L preinstalled.

The p630 is scheduled to be available for purchase starting August 30. A -48 Volt DC Power option is planned for the first quarter of 2003.

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