IBM drops Intel high-end server

Users of an IBM server line the company acquired with its purchase of Sequent Computer Systems are being forced to migrate to...

Users of an IBM server line the company acquired with its purchase of Sequent Computer Systems are being forced to migrate to other systems after IBM decided to ditch the technology.

IBM announced it was dumping the Intel-based 64-processor xSeries 430 server featuring Sequent's Non-Uniform Memory Architecture just 12 months after the product was launched. It is also withdrawing Sequent's associated Dynix/ptx Unix operating system.

Some Sequent users in the US are extremely angry. "IBM's actions have left us with a very bad taste in our mouths for anything IBM," said Michael Wojtowicj, manager of systems engineering at Entertainment Partners, a company that provides production management services in the entertainment industry.

At the start of 2003, IBM will stop selling both the server and the operating system, though it will continue to support Dynix/ptx during 2006 and the hardware until the end of 2007.

Sequent's NUMA technology allowed the company to assemble very large Intel boxes using four-processor building blocks.

Although Sequent never managed to find a large market for its products, it did have big-name customers including aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

When IBM acquired Sequent for $810m (£554m) in 1999, the company said it would use NUMA to deliver very large Intel boxes. The xSeries 430 server, which started at $160,000 (£109,368) for an eight-way system, was expected to be the first in a line of even larger Intel boxes.

IBM is now urging users to move their applications to its 32-way p690 Unix/RISC servers, which were launched at Cebit earlier this eyar, or to smaller four- or eight-way Intel boxes.

An IBM spokesman last week said the move was a routine product withdrawal. Though it formally announced the withdrawal in March, IBM has been contacting customers about the move since last year, he said.

"We do these things all the time. We replace technologies with new technologies. We view this as a product evolution," the spokesman said.

"We are giving our customers plenty of time to execute a migration strategy, and we'll continue to support their migration [to other technologies]."

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