IBM upgrades Unix servers, revamps Power architecture

IBM upgrades Unix servers, revamps Power architecture

IBM is upgrading the high end of its System p5 servers with dual-core Power5+ processors, which the company says will deliver a 25 percent performance gain over existing models -- in part through improvements in the processor.

The two models are IBM's p5-595, which can scale up to 32 processors with 64 cores, and the p5-590, which has 32 cores.

The fully configured high-end system can support up to 254 virtual servers per physical server, which IBM expects to appeal to businesses consolidating servers. Each processor core can support up to 10 virtual servers.

IBM is also making available its Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager on these systems. The recently introduced metering tool allows users to track usage by a business unit, for instance, to better allocate costs, said Jeff Howard, director of System P marketing.

The servers will be available Aug. 11. Pricing was not immediately available.

In a separate but related announcement this week, IBM said its organization has developed a single Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) for the Power processor. The ISA details how a chip communicates with the operating system.

Previously, the Power ISA was slightly modified for different uses, such as desktops, embedded systems and servers. A shared ISA means that a tool vendor, for instance, will have to build only one set of tools that applies to the Power processor architecture, said Bill Dykas, manager of Power ecosystem development and head operations at

The goal "is to expand the usages of power architecture, and part of that happens by improving the development environment," he said.

Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT Inc. in Hayward, Calif., said the decision to create a single ISA may make it easier for developers to straddle the embedded chip market and high-end processors. was created in 2004 as an open standards group for the Power architecture.

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