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IBM fills hole in Unix server line

Big Blue addresses the weakest part of its collection with the new low-end p610, a two-processor system code-named Colt.

IBM has released a new low-end Unix server, addressing the weakest part of the company's Unix server line.The IBM p610

The p610, a two-processor system code-named Colt, has a starting price of $7,495, said Val Rahmani, the new general manager of IBM's Unix server division. More typical models with two processors, 8GB of memory and two 36GB hard drives cost $43,800, the company said.

In the second quarter of 2001, Big Blue had 15 percent of the market for entry-level Unix servers--those costing less than $100,000--according to research firm IDC. IBM's total of $330 million in sales in the segment was well behind No. 1 Sun Microsystems' total of $875 million and No. 2 Hewlett-Packard's $449 million.

The trend for IBM has been favorable, though. The company increased its market share from 10 percent to 15 percent from the second quarter of 2000 to the second quarter of 2001, IDC said.

IBM's Unix server business is in the midst of a years-long recovery, after the company was caught flat-footed by the rise of Sun in the late 1990s.

Sun filled the void left when servers using Intel chips and Microsoft Windows failed to live up to promises, winning the top position in the Unix server market. In 2000, that market had $29 billion in sales, according to IDC, making it the largest segment of the overall $60 billion server market.

Servers are powerful but expensive networked computers that are used for tasks such as dishing out Web pages and running corporate e-mail systems.

The p610 can be freestanding or bolted to a rack. It measures 8.75 inches tall in its rack-mounted configuration and comes with either 375MHz or 450MHz Power 3-II CPUs.