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Big Blue outlines copper, RS, Monterey futures

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IBM rolled out its S/80 "Magic Box" today and at the same time gave sneak previews of its microprocessor PowerPC futures. At the same time, it released version 4.3.3 of Aix for its RS family and said that this is effectively Monterey for its Aix family. Senior IBM US executives also spent much time knocking Sun, and claiming that with the introduction of the S/80, and with future developments underway, its products will knock spots off the Sun platform. Doug Grose, VP of IBM's server group, said that IBM, using its copper interconnect technology, a specific pipeline interface for future members of the Power family which would deliver far faster throughput on future members of the family. IBM said that although it had not yet booted Monterey on silicon samples of Merced, it expected to do so in a matter of weeks, and has already received samples from Intel. The S/80 uses IBM's Pulsar chip, which includes 34 million transistors, runs at a clock speed of 450MHz and is a 24-way system. Groce said that i-Star technology, expected to appear towards the end of next year, will include SOI (silicon on insulator), also have 34 million transistors, but would run at over 500Mhz. However Power 4 was a different proposition, he said. It will make use of technology migrated down from IBM's mainframe family. Of this technology, he said: "It's a better way to get more bits on the pipeline," he said. "Normally, in the pipeline, bits need to be tracked until they get to their destination -- we don't need to do that with Power 4 -- it's designed as an SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) chip". The Power 4 will have over 170 million transistors, run in speeds excess of 1GHz and support 32-way SMP. IBM's processor roadmap for next year also includes the Winterhawk II running at over 350MHz and supporting two to four way systems,as well as the Nighthawk II/III, running up to 500MHz and supporting four to 16 way systems. The company claimed it would be the number one Unix in four to five year's time, and its range of microprocessors and the technology involved would be the backbone of the system, said Mike Borman, VP of RS sales. IBM will spend a whole heap of advertising and marketing money on its RS line, on the direct authorisation of Big Blue CEO Lou Gerstner, said Borman. "Unix is the largest OS system with 40 per cent of the market now and it will still be the largest in 2004," he said. "In five years from now, we've got to be number one in Unix. We plan to invest over $1 billion incrementally in our RS range." He said that while Aix-Monterey will be its main thrust, IBM will also support "innovative" Linux developments, and migrate customers needing higher performance transactions to Aix. Sun was not up to the job, he said. "Customers no longer need to rely on poor performance from Sun," he said. ®

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