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IBM has started talking up a new, tubby Xeon system designed to be a storage workhorse as well as a traditional server.

The xSeries 260 server should start shipping in mid-September and arrive as a four-processor, 7U box. Why such a large case, you ask? Well, IBM has built in room to handle the heat of Intel's "Cranford" versions of Xeon and to stack up to 12 SCSI disk drives. At up to 300GB per drive, IBM can pack the x260 with 3.6TB of storage.

IBM discussed this system with some reporters here at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) but didn't extend the same honor to The Register, so we'll have to wing it. [We'd put a note about how long our ban with IBM is in place for if the company would be kind enough to tell us the length of the timeout period. It feels like forever - Ed.]

The x260 stands as the third server to make use of IBM's X3 chipset. IBM touts this chipset as the key to making its Xeon-based servers better performers than similar boxes from rivals who rely on standard chipsets. Big Blue invested tens of millions in the product.

Those familiar with the x366 will note that it has the same, basic innards as the x260. The x366 is simply a smaller, 3U rack server. IBM's other system using the X3 chipset is the x460 four-way box.

The x260 will start at $4,599 and support server operating systems from Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell.

In conjunction with the x260 launch, IBM unveiled a new workstation using Intel's dual-core Pentium D processor. The IntelliStation M Pro 6218 also ships in Sept. at a starting price of $1,479. Microsoft's Windows XP operating system (x64 and x32) will be pre-loaded, while customers can purchase Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 as an option as well.

IBM's IDF-timed Xeon embrace reversed a performance from last year when it used IDF as a launch pad for new Opteron-based servers. IBM's position as a supplier of everything often has it oscillating between Intel love and Intel hatred. ®

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