Tech Industry

IBM reveals new midrange Unix server

Big Blue is set to introduce the eight-processor pSeries 660 6M1 with the company's fastest processor yet, according to its Web site.

IBM is introducing a new midrange Unix server with the company's fastest processor yet, it revealed on its Web site Tuesday.

The eight-processor pSeries 660 6M1 comes with either the earlier RS64 III chip running at 500MHz or the newer RS64 IV at 750MHz, according to information posted on IBM's Web site. The newer CPU is the same one used in the top-end p680 server, but that system uses slower 450MHz or 600MHz models.

The p660 6M1's new chip will be overshadowed within a month. Big Blue plans to release its new top-end "Regatta" server using the Power4 chip on Oct. 2, sources have said. It will compete against Sun Microsystems' upcoming "StarCat" server, expected to emerge Sept. 26.

IBM hasn't formally announced the products, but described them to customers on its Web site. The move is similar to the introduction of the lower-end p660, a six-processor server that IBM announced on its Web site about a week before the formal product launch in April.

The 660 6M1, with a starting price of $62,000, will take on Sun systems that have been on sale for several months in an intense Unix server competition. Sun, the top Unix server seller, has been selling its new UltraSparc III-based 12-processor Sun Fire 4800 line, while Hewlett-Packard is planning a successor to its eight-processor N-class systems. Unix servers from Compaq Computer and SGI, while respected technologically, have faded in the market.

The IBM system, scheduled to be available Sept. 21, is the successor to the M80, introduced in May 2000. The 660 6M1 uses CPUs with silicon-on-insulator technology, introduced a year ago and enabling faster processors that don't generate additional heat.

Existing M80 systems can be upgraded with the new CPUs, IBM said. And Big Blue cut the price by 14 percent to 16 percent of its B50 server, a thin, rack-mountable model introduced two years ago.

The 660 6M1 can accommodate as much as 64GB of memory and, using expansion modules, as many as 56 PCI slots. As many as 32 of the new systems may be networked in a cluster to act as a single high-performance supercomputer.