Although the IBM eServer x440 only has a maximum loading of 16 Intel Xeon processors, the company claims that, at $102,494 (£72,000), it will provide strong competition for the ES7000, which costs about four times that amount for a similar configuration.
However, the Unisys is still the only 64-bit Intel server of this size that can use Itanium processors in addition to the 32-bit Pentium III generation of Xeon chips.
The x440 is the first product to challenge Unisys, which has had more than a year in which the nearest competitor for the Windows 2000 Datacenter Edition market was Compaq's four-way Itanium server.
Several companies initially planned to rebadge the ES7000 rather than jump
in early to the Windows
Datacenter market, but Hewlett-Packard and Compaq pulled out last year and, on the eve of CeBit, Dell also pulled its plans to badge the system.
The IBM server is designed for flexibility. Like the ES7000, it can run physical partitions containing four processors each but, like the z-Server mainframes, it additionally supports virtual partitions to allow up to 64 servers to be consolidated into one box. The virtual partitions are created using VMWare's ESX Server software.
The x440, which will be available in July, uses the
latest Xeon MP processors, and the announcement was timed to accompany Intel's release of the chips at Cebit. The processor array is backed by a maximum
memory configuration of 32Gbytes of SDRam.