IBM Corp. Monday will soon unleash its "Turbo" Server -- a
one-uppance to recent announcements made by superpower rivals Sun
Microsystems Inc., which pledged to create speedier UNIX servers in
Always wary of its competition, especially in the server market,
Big Blue has made a preemptive strike with its new eServer pSeries
680, which it claims is the most powerful UNIX server to date. IBM
promised to make what it code-named Turbo available November
Jim McGaughan, manager of eServer product offerings for IBM,
told InternetNews.com in a recent briefing that while Sun and HP
boasted of preparing 64-processor servers in Ultrasparc 3 and
Superdrome, respectively, his company has created a 24-processor
server, which is actually faster.
How does this seem possible? McGaughan said the burden of
creating a smaller, more powerful processor than Sun's was relieved
by Big Blue's Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) technology -- an add-on to
the standard copper wire used for servers. SOI increases the
performance of copper-based processors up to 30 percent by reducing
electrical leakage among millions of transistors.
"We're upping the ante -- big-time," said McGaughan. "We have
shattered a full-range of industry benchmarks for what we call the
Big Brother to our S80, which we released last year. And we're
doing it with a rather svelte 24-processor unit compare to Sun's
bloated 64-way processor."
McGaughan said the p680 trounces Sun and HP's biggest servers on
every performance measurement with fewer chips (in transaction
processing - less than half compared with Sun's flagship - the
E10000) and at a lower cost. Most significantly for UNIX customers,
fewer chips can also mean a lower cost for database and other
software license charges.
According to IBM, the broken barriers include the world's
SPECweb benchmark for Web server speed and the Transaction
Processing Server benchmark for raw power. Of the eight barriers it
claims to have shredded, analysts think these two are the most
significant: The power benchmark is said to have serviced an
unprecedented 200,000 customer orders per minute.
Giga Information Group Vice President Brad Day, who was briefed
on the p680, told InternetNews.com it was the fastest server
"What's compelling about this announcement is that there is a
low processor count that provides serious breakthrough performance
that puts them back on top," Day said, referring to IBM's server
war with Sun, which by most counts, holds 37 to 38 percent of UNIX
server market revenues to IBM's 24 to 25 percent. "Probably the
most telling is the number of the industry standard benchmarks IBM
Day said other firms will harp on the fact that they broke a
benchmark, but that IBM consistently breaks several.
"Customers don't care about a firm breaking a single benchmark,"
Day said. "But they will take notice if a company breaks
Day also said that central to McGaughan's stressing that p680 is
a smaller, 24-chip processor than Sun's future 64-bit hardware, it
will save companies space and money considering raw
Day also said that, though it is late getting in on the
capacity-on-demand bandwagon that Sun and HP have been coasting on,
IBM will only improve its status with customers. With this
technology, customers can get more performance with a simple
request and a reboot of the server.
Still, despite IBM's bold statements and product release next
month, the server revenue market share still posits Sun in the
lead, with HP at second, followed closely by IBM.
Bill Claybrook, the research director for Linux and open source
software at Abderdeen, told InternetNews.com that though Sun may
hold the market share, the number of licenses held by the server
trinity is closer than the revenues indicate. Claybrook said one
area where IBM and HP hold an advantage over Sun is in the
burgeoning Linux market, in which Big Blue and HP have dabbled
"One of the reasons IBM and HP are much more into Linux is that
Linux competes very well with the low-end user," Claybrook said.
"IBM and HP recognize Linux's open source model as popular and
Big Blue hopes Turbo will vault it into the leader in the UNIX
server market. And if not, well there is always next year when IBM
comes out with its next round of product upgrades for UNIX.
Bu where does it all end for IBM and its rivals? Claybrook
guesses IBM has another three or four years with which to assault
the market with new servers before a cap is reached.
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