The p610 servers come as either one-processor or two-processor systems, running IBM's AIX 5L flavour of the Unix operating system. Customers will be able to choose from two models. The 6E1 was built to take up relatively little space and is less than 24in (61.7cm) deep and 8.5in (21.5cm) wide. The 6C1 is designed to fit in a rack. The base server starts at $7,495 (£5,274) and is currently available only in the US.
The p610 can use either one or two Power3-II copper-based processors from IBM running at either 375MHz or 450MHz. Users can expand the server's memory from 512Mbytes to 8Gbytes. Servers using the 450MHz chips will include 8Mbytes of Level 2 cache.
IBM competes fiercely with Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard in the Unix server market and all three companies have been rolling out new products despite declining hardware sales in a slow economy. IBM released its high-end p690 server earlier in October, including the higher-speed Power4 processors.
Because IBM is trying to catch up with Sun and HP in the Unix space, it must keep showing improvements to its product line even in slow times, said Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst at Illuminata.
"Do you throw new products away in slow times? No, you bring them out and take the marketing benefits," Eunice said. "You just have to endure the slings and arrows of a soft market."