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IBM's much-anticipated Power5 processor made its first appearance this week in a new line of iSeries servers.

With this latest kit, IBM is doing its best to convince customers that the venerable iSeries (AS/400) systems can go head-to-head against traditionally cheaper Intel-based servers. To make its case, IBM is offering the new i5 520 two-processor system at a starting price of $9,995. While this price comes in well above most two-way Xeon or Opteron boxes, it can be justified by the tight relationship between the Power5 processor and the i5 operating system (OS/400) that give IBM's customers some high-end tools.

First up, IBM touts the ability to run i5/OS, Windows, Linux and AIX on the same server. Using IBM's latest partitioning technology, customers can also run up 10 partitions per processor. In total, this makes it possible to run a number of applications on a single system, reducing overall hardware costs.

On top of that, the Power5 chip, like the Power4 part, has two processor cores. But unlike its predecessor, the Power5 processor includes simultaneous multithreading (SMT) technology, making it possible to run a total of four software threads per chip.

IBM is also bundling its DB2 UDB database and WebSphere Express middleware with the new kit.

IBM boasts that all of this new technology gives the latest iSeries kit a 40 per cent price/performance edge over previous systems.

Along with the i5 520, IBM has announced a four-processor i5 570 box that starts at $85,000. The systems become generally available in June. ®

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