LinuxWorld: IBM delivers 64-bit blade server for Linux

The window is wide open for Linux developers as IBM's 64-bit blade server makes its debut.

IBM will introduce today at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco a crop of new blade servers using Intel's new 64-bit chip. The new servers are a windfall for Linux users eagerly waiting to tap into the performance of the new system.

Microsoft delaying the release of a 64-bit operating system is icing on the cake.
Charles King
Research DirectorSageza Group

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and Novell SuSE Enterprise Linux Server 9 both support the new 64-bit processors. DB2 "Stinger" and WebSphere will support the new servers for Linux distributions before the end of 2004, IBM said.

IBM's eight new products represent the largest launch in volume for the IBM eServer xSeries line since its inception four years ago. IBM will unveil a new blade server, workstation, one-way and two-way servers, TotalStorage offerings, an upgrade of IBM Director and a package of features using the Xtended Design Architecture (XDA).

With the announcement last week that Microsoft would again delay the release of a 64-bit operating system, IBM has about a six-month lead on Redmond, giving Linux the ultimate advantage, according to experts.

Timing this announcement with LinuxWorld was a wise strategic move by IBM, said Charles King, a research director with the Mountain View, Calif.-based Sageza Group. "Microsoft delaying the release of a 64-bit operating system is icing on the cake."

Linux is leading the market in 64-bit chip support, said Stuart McRae, worldwide marketing manager for xSeries servers at IBM. "For those trying to build with Linux, they're going to benefit from these 64-bit solutions. This is a huge opportunity for Linux," he said.

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King added that for customers who are dedicated Windows users, there is currently no way of taking advantage of the 64-bit technology. However, Linux users can. "So long as a Microsoft 64-bit OS is unavailable, it leaves the window wide open for Linux developers," he said. "IBM has been more aggressive than any other vendor in pushing Linux. Not only are they in a good position to push this, they've done a good job at developing a good community of Linux ISVs."

However, IBM will continue to face competition from Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., which are both expected to release their own blade servers based on the 64-bit chip.

The new Intel processors are now available on the new IBM eServer xSeries systems: x206, x226, x236, x306, x336 and x346. IBM BladeCenter with the 64-bit extensions is already shipping. The IntelliStation Z Pro systems will have general availability by early September. IBM's TotalStorage offerings will be generally available beginning in the third quarter.

Pricing begins at $1,409 for a 3.2 GHz EM64T system with 512 MB of memory.

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