Both companies revealed their latest Unix offerings earlier this week, with IBM unveiling the p670 mid-range server and Sun launching the Sun Fire 12K, a high-end mainframe aimed at the datacentre.
Phil Payne, an analyst at Isham Research, said, "This spells good news for users." All competition is good for users, especially when it is fierce, he added.
The move follows a bout of frenzied activity last year when Sun launched its Sun Fire 15K high-end Unix mainframe and IBM countered shortly afterwards with the launch of its 32-way p690 system, code-named Regatta.
Essentially a scaled down version of the powerful Sun Fire 15K, the Sun Fire 12K boasts up to 52 Ultrasparc III processors, compared to the 15K's 106 processors.
The Sun Fire 12K also offers a choice of up to nine dynamic system domains, which Sun executives claim is the equivalent of having nine separate computers within the same chassis.
IBM's p670 is based on the company's Power 4 processor and uses the same system design as its predecessor, the p690. The 16-way p670 includes system sensors from the IBM's eLiza project which are designed to allow users to detect failures online.
Payne predicted that there are likely to be more developments from IBM and Sun this year as the two hardware giants fight for the server market. "The race between IBM and Sun is hotting up, they have got each other in their sights," he said.
Meanwhile Unisys has also added to the server wars with a 32-way server that uses Intel's Xeon chips. The ES7000 will compete against IBM's x440.