IBM launches new low-end server

IBM Corp. started selling a new low-end server Monday designed to handle general purpose tasks as an application server or small database server, according to information on the company's Web site.

The p610 servers come as either one processor or two processor systems, running IBM's AIX 5L flavor of the Unix operating system. Customers will be able to choose from two models of the p610. The Model 6E1 was built to take up relatively little space and is less than 24 inches (61.7 centimeters) deep and 8.5 inches (21.5 centimeters) wide. The 6C1 is designed to fit in a rack, according to the company's Web site. The base server in the line starts at US$7,495 and is currently available only in the U.S.

The p610 can use either one or two POWER3-II copper-based processors from IBM running at either 375MHz or 450MHz. Users can expand memory in the server from 512M bytes to 8G bytes. The servers using the 450MHz chips will include 8M bytes of Level 2 cache, according to the company's Web site.

IBM competes fiercely with Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. in the Unix server market. IBM released its high-end p690 server earlier this month, including the higher speed POWER4 processors.

IBM, Sun and HP all have been rolling out new products even though hardware sales have been tough to come by in a slow economy.

Because IBM is trying to catch up with Sun and HP in the Unix space, it must keep showing improvements to its product line even in slow times, said Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst at Illuminata Inc., in Nashua, New Hampshire. It is important for IBM to seem "on the cutting edge" to customers, if it wants to gain ground.

"Do you throw new products away in slow times? No, you bring them out and take the marketing benefits," Eunice said. "You just have to endure the slings and arrows of a soft market."

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