Big Blue Flexes Midrange Unix Muscle

BOSTON - Hardly a week goes by without IBM Corp. taking another shot at rival Sun Microsystems Inc.

IBM Thursday announced three new AIX servers that will compete with Sun's midrange enterprise boxes. Each new server carries copper-wire CPUs, which allows them to run cooler and faster than typical aluminum wire chips.

The boxes also come with a new feature that can take a failing CPU offline and transfer its functions to another CPU until maintenance can be scheduled, says Mike Maas, manager of Web server products at IBM.

The eight-way M80 is the largest of the new servers, and it comes with 500MHz copper CPUs. Sitting just below the S80, the M80 machine is capable of about 60,000 transactions per second, and has 32G bytes of memory. The M80 competes with the Sun E4500 and E6500 machines, and starts at about $67,995.

Next in line is the six-way H80, with up to four 450MHz or up to six 500MHz copper chips, and 16G bytes of memory. It comes in a rack mountable format to make it easy to install in Internet server farms, IBM says. The box is capable of up to 2200 simultaneous connections, and it competes with the Compaq AlphaServer ES40 and Sun's E3500 Unix machines. Pricing for the H80 starts at about $21,995.

At the lower end is the F80 six-way box, which comes with up to four 450MHz or up to six 500MHz CPUs and 16G bytes of memory. Competing against the Sun E450, it starts at about $18,995. All three servers run AIX 4.3.3, the latest version of IBM's Unix, and will be available by May 31.

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