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IBM makes nice with Intel

Revealing a close new relationship with Intel, IBM on Friday will announce one of the first multiprocessor Pentium Pro server lines and the first Pentium Pro design based on Intel components.

Revealing a close new relationship with Intel, IBM on Friday will announce one of the first multiprocessor Pentium Pro server lines and the first Pentium Pro designs based on Intel components.

The announcement, which IBM will make at the CeBIT exposition in Hannover, Germany, is likely to ignite an explosion of Pentium Pro server announcements from major vendors in the next few months. The move also underscores the transition of the Pentium Pro from workstation engine to server engine.

The new IBM PC Server 704 servers can be configured with one, two, or four 166-MHz Pentium Pro processors and use an Intel motherboard, IBM said.

The servers feature a new design using two high-performance PCI buses for improved data handling instead of the usual single bus, the company said. The 704 servers also boast large data storage and memory capacity. Seventeen storage bays with a maximum storage capability of 25.68GB are available, and memory can be expanded up to 1GB.

The PC Server 704 will support IBM's OS/2 V2.11 for SMP*, OS/2 LAN Server 4.0 Advanced and Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 Server. Additional network operating system support is planned.

U.S. prices are expected to be about $18,995 for a single-processor model and $31,445 for a two-processor model, IBM said. Both will be available worldwide in May.

These new IBM systems will mark the beginning of a new era of server technology based on the Pentium Pro--which, from the beginning, was designed to excel as a server chip.

To date, Pentium Pro systems from all vendors have been sold only as single-processor workstations because of nettlesome problems with their highly complex multiprocessor designs.

Some of those glitches involved the group of companion chips, or chipset, that ships with the Pentium Pro processor. But these problems have been rectified, and Intel is now supplying a fixed version of this chipset to IBM and other vendors for server designs.

The announcement also symbolizes the increasingly close cooperation between the two companies, a relationship that has some distinct advantages for IBM: it gains access to key Intel technologies and can be quick to market with high-powered, cutting-edge systems. Intel, for its part, benefits by acquiring know-how from IBM, a seasoned builder of servers.

The new relationship is an outgrowth of the recent teaming of Intel and the IBM PC Company, a subsidiary of IBM--an association that has flourished over the last 12 months and resulted in new IBM desktop PC lines, as well the servers being unveiled this week. IBM, for example, uses Intel Pentium motherboards in its mainstay PC 300 and 700 corporate desktop lines.

To emphasize their alliance, Intel representatives will join IBM for the CeBIT announcement, sources said.

In other collaborative efforts, IBM processors based on a Cyrix design will be used in future IBM ThinkPad notebooks.