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The Way Business Is Moving

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Issue Date: February 2002

The world's most powerful server

1 February 2002

IBM has introduced what they claim is the world's most powerful UNIX server, the IBM eServer p690. This server incorporates microprocessor breakthroughs and mainframe technologies not used in UNIX servers before.
In reinventing UNIX server technology, the eServer p690 has transformed UNIX economics. Half the price of competitor products, the IBM p690 also slashes cost of operation and total cost of ownership.
Says Akhter Dukanda, IBM SA eServer pSeries sales manager: "Because IBM has produced a self-healing box that sits in a 24-inch rack and can consolidate 16 smaller servers with diverse workloads into one, customer cost advantages flow automatically - radically reduced utilisation of floor space, elimination of management and maintenance requirements, reduced cooling and electricity requirements - and reduced software licensing costs because there are 32 processors instead of the 108 in competitor boxes."
The IBM eServer p690 runs AIX 5L and is ready for 64-bit Linux.
IBM technologies new to UNIX servers include 'server on a chip', ultra-dense building blocks and virtualisation.
IBM's POWER4 microprocessor is the first 'server on a chip', containing two one-gigahertz-plus processors, a high bandwidth system switch, a large memory cache and I/O. It conserves energy and dramatically outperforms servers that have more than twice as many processors.
The eServer p690 ultra-dense building block is a palm-sized eight-processor multichip module that is the computing equivalent of six four-inch by 16-inch SMP board segments in competing high-end servers. As a result, the IBM server packs more computing power in less floor space and consumes less power.
This modular technology was first deployed in the IBM eServer z900 mainframe.
The eServer p690 can be operated as a single large server or divided into as many as 16 'virtual' servers, running any combination of the AIX 5L and Linux operating systems.
The 'hard' partitions in competing systems require at least four chips, wasting valuable system resources and degrading performance.
The IBM p690's virtualisation function mirrors the eServer z900, which can support thousands of virtual servers on a single system.
The IBM p690 can also dynamically reconfigure partitions - while still operating - to meet changing workload demands.
In addition, as part of IBM's Project eLiza, the p690 is the only UNIX server to offer multiple layers of self-healing technologies. Thousands of sensors can predict when a component - such as a CPU, cache or memory - is likely to fail and take it off-line while keeping the server running.
By contrast, other high-end servers offer manual hot-swapping of already-failed components or simple failure isolation within a partition that may not prevent failures from crashing applications.
Dukanda says that the price/performance benefits of the IBM p690 make it an automatic choice in the South African market, dominated as it is by small and medium-sized organisations with limited financial and IT resources.
"The kinds of savings and exponential improvements in performance that the p690 makes possible must place this eServer at the top of the CEO or CIO's list.
"It will pay for itself in two years and, if capital is an issue, our Global Financing division can help.
"Also, companies need only buy as much of the eServer p690 as they can afford. If they do not yet need the 32-way box - which is available at half the price of other high-end servers, an eight-way is available.
"Or, as part of our Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD) programme, we can install a 32-way machine and provide and charge for, say, only 10 images. When needed, system resources can be activated incrementally."
Akhter Dukanda, 011 302 6340, www.ibm.com/za


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