IBM speeds up p690 processor

IBM will begin shipping its pSeries 690 servers next month, which boasts a faster, 1.9GHz Power4+ processor and offer a memory...

IBM will begin shipping its pSeries 690 servers next month, which boasts a faster, 1.9GHz Power4+ processor and offer a memory card that will double the amount of memory the high-end systems can support.

The p690 is the most powerful of IBM's pSeries line of Unix servers and is available in configurations ranging from eight to 32 processors.

At present it supports up to 512Gbytes of memory, but IBM will begin offering the systems with a new, 128Gbyte DIMM (dual in-line memory module) card, increasing the limit to one terabyte from 25 June, said Jim McGaughan, IBM's director of eServer strategy.

Although the Unix market shrank by 3.8% in the third quarter of 2003, IBM's pSeries servers have done well, with sales increasing by 2% during that period, according to research firm IDC.

During that time, IBM upgraded a number of its pSeries systems to the Power4+ processor, including the p690 and the mid-range p670 and p655.

While processor upgrades are in the works for the other members of the pSeries family, McGaughan would not say whether these upgrades will be based on the 1.9-GHz Power4+ or its successor, the Power5 processor, which is expected in the second half of this year.

Pricing for the 1.9-GHz p690 systems will start at $641,783 for an eight-way server with 16Gbytes of memory and two 236Gbyte disc drives.

A 32-way system with 64Gbytes of memory will start at just over $2m. Servers based on the 1.9GHz processor will be available from 5 March.

IBM is also dropping the price of its 1.5GHz and 1.7GHz p690s by 12% to 15%, depending on the configuration. For example, a 1.7GHz, eight-way p690 with 16Gbytes of memory and two 236Gbyte hard drives will start at $528,488, about 12% less than its original price.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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