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IBM boosts servers with new Intel chips

The latest Xeon MP chips take their place in Big Blue's xSeries server line, promising higher performance for about the same price as earlier systems.

IBM on Tuesday said it has pepped up a trio of its xSeries servers, designed for use in heavy-duty computing tasks.

The company updated its xSeries x255, x360 and x440 servers, each designed to use four or more processors, with Intel's newest Xeon MP chips, which run at speeds up to 2GHz.

When fully configured, the new servers will cost tens of thousands each, but IBM says they can quickly tackle big jobs such as encrypted transaction processing--and as a result offer a low cost per transaction.

The IBM machines will use various combinations of the new Xeon MP processors, including 1.5GHz and 1.9GHz models with a 1MB cache, which stores frequently used data close to the processor for quick access. Those chips, along with a 2GHz Xeon MP with 2MB of cache, were announced Monday.

The systems will compete against models from Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard in the lucrative server market. Dell and HP announced similar new Xeon MP server models Monday. Dell will fit the chips into its the PowerEdge 6600 and 6650 models, while HP will offer them in its ProLiant ML570 and DL760 servers.

A current version of the x360 server that uses two older 1.6GHz Xeon MP chips starts at $15,800. With two additional processors, three 73GB hard drives and networking gear, the price jumps to nearly $32,000. The new models are expected to be priced at least somewhat similarly, but offer improved performance.

IBM will also offer the new chips in its x255 in both rack-mountable and standalone tower chassis, as well as in four-processor, eight-processor and, eventually, 16-processor x440 server models.

The company says its eight-processor x440 using the new 2GHz Xeon MP turned in 20 percent higher scores on benchmarks such as the Transaction Performance Council's TPC-C, which counts transactions per second.

The new x255 and x440 models will start shipping in November, and the x360 in December.