IBM has announced a version of its System i business server range that uses the company's Power6 processor, which the tech giant claims is the fastest chip it has ever built.
Announced this week, the System i 570 uses the 4.7GHz Power6, launched in May, with up to 16 cores, a processor that has come top in many industry benchmarks.
The midrange System i, originally launched as the Application System/400 in 1988, has outlived many other computer systems because it uses a virtual instruction set which is independent of the hardware, and is designed to be easy to use for non-specialist IT staff in small-to-medium businesses.
IBM is also planning a new version of System i's i5/OS operating system, with support for web services and virtualisation, due to be delivered in 2008 from the company's new Power Systems division.
"Nearly half of IBM's systems clients today have i5/OS installed in their enterprise," said Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM Power Systems. "IBM will continue to build on the integrated, easy-to-use, value proposition of i5/OS so clients can rely on this proven platform for their enterprise applications."
Features planned for i5/OS version 6 will include the option to encrypt data on disk and tape, and a virtualisation function that lets one i5/OS partition host storage for other i5/OS partitions, reducing the number of partitions that users need to have on the system, and making i5 deployments easier.
The operating system also gets an update for new-style web services, with an integrated web application server for Java applications.
As it has done for some years, the System i will continue to use technologies from other IBM divisions, for example using IBM Systems Director to increase its management strength and its ability to support a mixed environment that includes other operating systems, like Unix and Windows. It will also have better integration with IBM System Storage.
The OS also gets the MySQL open-source database, adding it to the presence of Zend's PHP on the OS last year. In future, IBM and MySQL plan to deliver DB2 for i5/OS as a MySQL storage engine, so MySQL databases on System i can access existing i5/OS data.
The company also introduced a new "pay-as-you-use" pricing structure, in which users start from one of three base System i configurations and add processing power and functions, such as transaction processing, on a per-processor basis.
The i570 can support up to 160 virtual server partitions and IBM says it will shine at server consolidation, to save floor space, power and cooling costs. It will be available from September, starting at $165,000 (£80,622).