IBM Targets AS/400s at Web Server Duties

SOMERS, N.Y. (06/14/2000) - IBM Corp. is introducing a slew of AS/400 servers with new chip technology and software aimed at improving Web server performance.

Big Blue recently announced updated models for its AS/400e line that will take on Sun's midrange Enterprise line of boxes. For instance, IBM claims the new AS/400e 840 can run over 108,000 instant-messaging sessions per second, which it claims is four times more than what the comparable Sun E6500 box can handle.

Boosting their Web serving performance, the IBM machines will have CPUs with copper wiring inside, letting them run faster and cooler than chips with standard aluminum wires. That's because the AS/400e CPUs are based on IBM's silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, a method of covering the transistors with silicon to prevent electrical leaks. This will give the boxes a performance boost of about 20 percent to 30 percent, IBM says.

Among the new line of AS/400e servers are two entry-level boxes. The AS/400e 250, aimed at workgroups or remote offices of five to 50 employees, starts at $7,500. The AS/400e 270, tweaked for Web serving, e-business and Java applications, is priced between $10,000 and $50,000, depending on configuration. For larger network environments there will be the AS/400e 820, 830 and 840 models, priced between $30,000 and $1.2 million. The AS/400e boxes will be available by August.

IBM is adding a Java developers kit to the larger AS/400e models with tools that will let them support XML, which in turn will let devices such as cell phones access AS/400 resources, IBM says. In August the firm will release a new version of the OS/400, Version 4 Release 5, that will come with directory enhancements to support Lightweight Directory Access Protocol Version 3, the current version, and support for Transport Layer Security, the latest version of Secure Sockets Layer. This offers AS/400 users greater security for their IP traffic.

The copper-wire CPUs get the thumbs up from users who've tried the technology.

Copper wiring and SOI make servers run cooler and more efficiently, says Chuck Kuhlman, a senior engineer at ADC Telecommunications, a Minneapolis maker of telecommunications software and hardware.

These technologies "let IBM bring out chips very quickly with a minimum of 30 percent to 50 percent performance improvement," he says. Even his biggest server runs relatively coolly with these CPUs.


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