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Linuxworld: Itanium 2 system on the way from IBM

IBM has used the Linuxworld conference in San Francisco to show off a system running on Intel's Itanium 2 processor and a version of its DB2 database for Advanced Micro Devices' (AMD) Opteron processor.

IBM has previously said it will support Intel's new Itanium 2 chips but has yet to announce what its systems will look like. Users at the Linuxworld conference, however, were shown one new server that will arrive later this year - a system that can house 4 or 8 processors and dubbed the x450.

IBM also showed a 64-bit version of its DB2 database running on SuSE Linux's distribution of Linux and AMD's 64-bit Opteron processor, which is due to appear in servers early next year.

The demonstration of 64-bit products based on Intel and AMD chips marks IBM's adoption of some of the freshest technology in the server world. Like its rivals Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard, IBM has previously sold 64-bit servers that run on RISC (reduced instruction set computer) processors and the Unix operating system. IBM is now adding the new 64-bit technology from Intel and AMD to its arsenal.

In the demonstration at the show the x450 was connected to a cluster of IBM servers running DB2. IBM would not provide the speeds of the Itanium 2 chips or provide further details about its Itanium 2-based systems but a spokeswoman did say that IBM will support Itanium 2 across its product line.

IBM joins HP, NEC, Unisys and others with a working Itanium 2 server. Dell Computer is the lone major Intel-backer not to have announced a server based on the chip, but one analyst said the company is likely to soon join the fold.

"Everybody except Sun will have an Itanium 2 box by the end of the year or early next year, even Dell," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with the consulting company Insight 64 in California.

AMD was not left out of the 64-bit events, showing IBM's DB2 system on its Opteron chips and a server design using Opteron from Newisys. An IBM software engineer at AMD's booth said that it only took the company two days to port the database to the new Opteron processors. The server design from Newisys also garnered attention from showgoers.

Brookwood said he was impressed with Newisys' "industrial strength design" and high availability features. The systems could quickly be turned into production servers by any large OEM, he said.

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