IBM, Sun broaden Unix server lines

Two enterprise server vendors have adapted their big Unix servers for the midrange market.

IBM Corp.'s four- to 16-way p670 eServer incorporates the technical features of its 32-way sibling, the p690, said Jim McGaughan, an IBM product marketing director.

Sun Microsystems Inc.'s 52-CPU Sun Fire 12K, code-named Starkitty during development, fills a gap between the 24-processor Sun Fire 6800 and the high-end Sun Fire 15K, Sun chief competitive officer Shahin Khan said.

Like the IBM p690, the p670 uses IBM's 64-bit Power4 chips, each combining two microprocessors with on-chip cache and a high-bandwidth switch. The p670 is available with 1.1-GHz Power4 CPUs, McGaughan said.

Divide and conquer

Users can divide the p670 into as many as 16 virtual servers for consolidation projects. The cabinet-style chassis holds up to 3.5T, up to 128G of main memory and 60 PCI expansion slots.

The new eServer will run AIX 5L, IBM's proprietary version of Unix, as well as the 64-bit Linux operating system expected later this year.

Like its larger sibling, the Sun Fire 12K has a so-called uniboard architecture. Each uniboard holds four 900-MHz UltraSparc III CPUs and 16G of memory, for a maximum system memory of 288G, Khan said.

Sun will sell field upgrades to its forthcoming UltraSparc IV processors, and the entire Sun Fire 12K can be upgraded to a 15K without changing its serial number or IP address, Khan said.

Sun will offer software partitioning for both the 12K and the 15K under the new Solaris 9 operating system. The Sun Fire 12K will cost about $750,000, depending on options.

A four-way IBM p670 with 4G of main memory and two 18G drives lists for $175,000, McGaughan said. An eight-way system lists for $317,000, a 16-way for $535,000.

Contact IBM at 800-426-2255 and Sun Microsystems at 888-843-5282.

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