IBM goes after Sun with new low-end systems

IBM goes after Sun with new low-end systems

Summary: New processors, systems and virtualisation software are aimed squarely at Sun's low-end customer base

TOPICS: Servers

IBM has revamped its entry-level Unix servers with new processors and an Integrated Virtualisation Manager aimed at the SME market, and launched a vitriolic attack on rival Sun Microsystems.

Launching four new servers, three of them based on the new Power5+ processor, as well as a 16-way system for the high-end, IBM claimed leadership in power and performance in the low-end Unix systems market.

IBM also took time out to attack Sun's efforts in the low end marketplace, claiming that the arrival of its new processor came at "the worst possible time for fast-fading Sun" as IBM's "lead in the $18bn market for Unix computing systems grows at former leader Sun's expense".

Such aggressive and, for IBM, unusual language could yet backfire on the company as it was forced to acknowledge that the SME sector was "the last bastion of Sun presence in the Unix market" — and one IBM has struggled to hold.

The four new systems include the p5 505 — a one or two-way server that is exactly the same as the previous p5 510, and has the same processor, but takes up only half the space.

"Most SMEs find that space is at a premium and this will really help them", Phil Fifield, business development manager for the p Series, told ZDNet UK.

The three new systems based on the new processors include: the two-way, p5 520 with 1.9GHz p5+ processors, the two and four-way p5 550 with 1.9GHz p5+ processors, and the p5 550Q which is a four to eight-way 4u server, with 1.5GHz p5+ processors.

There is also a new graphical workstation, the IntelliStation Power 285, which is two-way and uses the 1.9GHz P5+ processor, as well as the p5 575 — a new 16-way version of an earlier p5 model which was previously 8-way.

According to IBM, the main improvements in the performance of the Power5+ chip come from its smaller format. It uses a 30 percent smaller processor size — 90nm rather than the 130nm in the original p5 — to get faster processing speeds, and IBM also claims it has "lower thermal characteristics" which make it cheaper to run.

"The smaller size of the processor and the lower heat output it gives is one of the main design gains of these the new processors and the new systems," said Fifield.

The new Integrated Virtualization Manager (IVM) is a wizard-driven, browser-based user interface that aims to help customers exploit the virtualisation technology. It allows customer to create a "MicroPartition" ready for installation of either AIX 5L or Linux with, IBM claims, "a mere three clicks of the mouse".

Topic: Servers


Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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  • Fine, but who writes to AIX?
  • This is all great news for IBM and for their customers who pay the highest support ticket in the industry, because of how proprietary their platforms are. Oh! Let not forget about price! I didn't see any mention of it in any of the articles I've read in the past few days. As far as getting the most bang for your buck; Sun is still the best ticket in town especially now with their new offerings. I know you say what about Dell? Well Dell is a good somewhat stable platform; especially if running Linux as opposed to Windows. However, most of your high availability platforms are loaded on HP or Sun platform servers. You can talk it up all you want, but the people spending the money and responsible for the maintenance know what is really going on.
  • Has IBM announved any release dates, performance benchmarks, and pricing? It's hard to verify claims without objective information.