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Unisys targets IBM on server price

The company is taking the pricing offensive against Big Blue in the market for powerful servers based on Intel processors.

Unisys is taking the pricing offensive against IBM in the market for powerful servers based on Intel processors.

The Blue Bell, Pa.-based company posted on Friday results of a new server speed test that the company says is evidence its new ES7000/540, released in April, is a better deal than IBM's x440. The results represent a reversal of fortune for Unisys, whose high-end servers were under pressure when IBM's competing models arrived in 2002.

Unisys' ES7000/540 server, with 16 2GHz Xeon MP processors, posted a score of 181,000 transactions per minute on the Transaction Processing Performance Council's widely watched TPC-C test. That score is a notch ahead of the 151,000 transactions per minute that IBM posted in March with a system that had the same number of processors running at the same clock rate.

In addition, Unisys' system cost $1.1 million compared with IBM's $1.7 million.

The speed test results represent the latest shift in an expanding and fast-changing market. Servers based on Intel processors were a market worth $16.4 billion in 2002, according to research firm Gartner. The research firm also expects spending on Intel servers to exceed that on Unix servers in 2003 for the first time.

Unisys is a close partner of Microsoft. The two companies together have launched an attack on the high-end server market currently dominated by machines running various versions of Unix.

However, with the arrival of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor, designed for heavier-duty computers than the 32-bit Xeon, more companies are getting into market that Unisys had largely to itself. IBM is planning a 16-processor Itanium server, NEC a 32-processor model, and Hewlett-Packard a 64-processor system.