IBM Begins Limited Shipments of Next Gen IA Servers

IBM Corp. declared it is shipping limited quantities of its next generation ofIntel architecture servers -- just in time for a self-imposed deadline ofcalendar year 2001.

IBM made theannouncement Thursday, Dec. 27. In November, IBM said it would begin shippingthe first members of its IBM eServer x360 family in early December. The timingwas pegged to availability of early release versions of Intel Corp.'s Xeon MP(for multiprocessing) chips. Those chips are also known by their "FosterMP" codename.

The full releaseof the Xeon MP is expected in the first quarter of 2002.

Upon generalavailability of the Xeon MP processors, the eServer x360 will be configurablein up to 16-processor systems of either 32-bit or 64-bit Intel processors. Fornow, the x360 is available as a four-processor system.

The servers willship in four-processor blocks or bricks, which work as standalone servers andfit into 3U of standard rack space. Up to four of the blocks can be connectedthrough a high-speed scalability port, creating a 16-processor logical machine.IBM offers a separate, rack-mountable I/O unit called the RXE100.

The x360 systemswere at one time known by the codename for the chipset they are based on,"Summit."

IBM'sintroduction of the x360 increases competition in the market for contemporaryIntel-based systems with more than eight processors. Unisys Corp. reignitedthat market in late 1999 with the introduction of the 32-way-capable ES7000. –Scott Bekker