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IBM Brings Enterprise X-Architecture to Itanium 2

IBM Corp. on Wednesday formally joined the increasingly crowded list of vendors offering multiprocessor server systems based on Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor family. IBM's offering comes in on the low end of the current 64-bit SMP scalability range, with systems initially supporting up to four processors.

The new Itanium 2-based server is called the eServer xSeries 450. The server is based on the "Summit" chipset that forms the foundation of IBM's 32-bit x440 servers for the Intel Xeon MP processor. IBM calls the technology the Enterprise X-Architecture.

IBM's Web site says users will be able to combine the four-way x450 servers "up to 16-way SMP scalability." Company officials aren't yet saying when they will begin offering the systems in greater-than-four-processor configurations.

Based on the same chipset, the 32-bit x440 started the same way -- in a four-way configuration that was later expanded to eight-way then 16-way. IBM plans to release a 32-processor x440 system in the second half of this year.

Other vendors with massive 64-bit Itanium 2 systems include HP, with its 64-processor Superdome system based on Intel's forthcoming "Madison" chip, which is the third generation of the Itanium technology. NEC sells a 32-processor system that runs both the Itanium 2 processors and has been benchmarked with "Madison" chips. Unisys has offered 64-bit Itanium support in its 32-way ES7000 line since the first Itanium processors shipped in 1999.

IBM's new server comes in a tight package. The four-way server takes up 4U of rack space in an enclosure with 28 DIMM slots that can accommodate up to 40 GB of RAM. Initially, the server will be offered with Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition for 64-bit Itanium 2, 64-bit SuSE Linux or 64-bit Red Hat Linux.

The server is shipping now with prices starting at $26,000.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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