IBM Corp. unveiled powerful business computers using the company's latest microprocessor, the Power 5, and technology that lets each chip run as many as 10 servers.
The eServer line would allow customers to use fewer servers to perform business automation functions, part of a trend among technology customers to demand more performance and capacity from a smaller number of computers, IBM said.
"You do want to get as much bang for the buck as possible," said Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Segeza Group. He noted that a server with one microprocessor running the Linux operating system would typically function at about 15 percent of total computing capacity.
Properly configured mainframe computers, however, ran constantly at about 75 percent of capacity, King said, adding that IBM adapted its virtualization technology for the eServer line from its mainframe computers.
The servers incorporate what IBM calls its virtualization engine, software that allows customers to run as many as 10 "virtual" computer servers per microprocessor. It announced that technology in April.
The latest eServer line, which will be available globally on August 31, uses from two to 16 Power 5 processors per server computer and uses as few as one-fourth the number of chips as comparable machines from rival vendors, Armonk, New York-based IBM said in a statement.
IBM said the new machines were the result of a three-year research and development effort aimed at adding mainframe computer-inspired features into non-mainframe servers that use the Unix operating system.
IBM rivals Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. also offer virtualization, but King said their offerings were not as advanced as what IBM now offers.
"HP offers some limited partitioning capabilities. Sun does as well but they're hardware based," King said.
The servers use IBM's AIX version of the Unix operating system or Red Hat Inc.'s or Novell Inc.'s SuSe versions of Linux, a freely available operating system that is gaining ground against both Unix and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system software.
The Power 5 chip, also used in Apple Computer Inc.'s higher-end Macintosh computers, has 276 million transistors and is made using 0.13 micron copper wiring and silicon-on-insulator technologies, which boost performance. It also has a dual-core design, which is akin to two chips in one microprocessor.
Intel Corp. recently announced plans to move to a so-called dual-core design in its Pentium processors.
The new eServer p5 line includes models 520, 550 and 570. The 520 starts at $12,920; the 550 starts at $22,100; and the 570 starts at $25,928, IBM said.