IBM asks: are you being served?

The new variants are said to point the AS/400e towards several specific market niches, expand buyer options and in some cases include new processor technologies and significant performance increases. Announced yesterday, the new product range is available for delivery in August.

IBM's John Schilt, AS/400 business manager for Australia and New Zealand in the enterprise systems group, said that the new members of the series are the first servers on the market to offer "silicon-on-insulator" (SOI) processor chips. These "IStar" processors, according to IBM, offer a 20-30 per cent performance increase over the already enhanced capabilities of copper wiring.

The expanded AS/400 series includes models for a variety of business and e-business uses. At the high end, the 24-way Model 840 is intended to supplement and extend the existing 700 series, and to run 3.6 times faster than the previous generation. It is intended for complex core B2B applications, including supply chain and CRM, as well as solutions such as server-side Java, WebSphere, Domino and business intelligence.

Schilt added that users could run many applications such as these simultaneously, in mixed workloads, or could use the system's dynamically allocated multi-way capabilities for specialised requirements such as addressing multiple time zones, languages, or development tasks.

The new Model 270 replaces the existing 170 series as an entry-level system.

IBM is extending its strategy of producing servers dedicated to running Domino, with six new "aggressively priced" offerings: three in the 270 series, and three more in the 820 range.

Model 250, replacing the Model 150, is the smallest entry-level machine in the series. Very much a "bundled" product, its prices start at under $A15,000 ex-GST, according to Schilt.

A new revision of the operating system -- Version 4, Release 5 -- was also announced. It supports XML, allowing AS/400s to communicate with "pervasive" devices such as handhelds.

Other enhancements to the product range are said to include redundant "high speed link" loop architecture, hot-pluggable PCI adapters, and, via PASE (Portable Applications Solutions Environment), the ability to run Unix or Windows 2000/NT applications.

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