IBM to fill out copper server line

Mid-range servers using copper chip technology will be available later this spring

IBM is expected to introduce three new mid-range RS/6000 servers, featuring the company's prized copper chip technology, later this spring.

In May, the company is slated to debut its F80, H80 and M80 servers. Both the F80 and H80 can scale up to four IBM 450MHz Pulsar chips, while the M80 will come equipped with two to eight 500MHz Pulsar chips, according to sources close to the company.

IBM officials would not disclose details on unannounced products.

The M80 and H80 are standard, rackmounted devices, while the F80 is a desk-side server, sources said. Pricing was unavailable, however. The sources said the M80 will likely be priced lower than IBM's current S7A server, codenamed Blackbird, which uses about 12 262MHz Northstar PowerPC chips. A base configuration of that server costs $125,000 (£77,500). In this way, IBM hopes to more than double the price/performance ratio of its mid-range offerings, the sources said.

Big Blue first unveiled its 64-bit copper chip technology last September in the RS/6000 S/80 server. The technology was launched in an effort to challenge Sun Microsystems in the Unix market. IBM officials say recent benchmarks show that IBM copper chips beat Sun's SPARC chips in terms of price and performance. Enterprise application developer Baan has reported that it takes 26 SPARC chips to achieve the same price/performance ratio as six IBM Pulsar copper chips.

In January, IBM introduced three other RS/6000 servers that use the copper chip -- the 44P 170 and 270, and the Power3-II SP Node. The 170 workstation is a uniprocessor; the 270 workstation scales up to four processors; and the SP Node scales up to 512 nodes, with each one scaling up to four processors.

By spring IBM will have a complete line of low-end, mid-range and enterprise servers running on copper chips.

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