IBM Aims Renamed UNIX Server at Sun

  • Written By: R. Krause
  • Published: November 2 2000

IBM Aims Renamed UNIX Server at Sun
R. Krause - November 2, 2000

Event Summary

[Source: IBM] 10/16/2000

IBM has introduced the eServer pSeries 680 - and announced it will ship the UNIX-based system to customers beginning Nov. 17. Code-named "Turbo," the pSeries 680 has captured eight major performance benchmark records using up to 24 copper microprocessors with IBM's Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) technology. (See IBM Continues RS/6000 Performance Focus.)

Additional features include:

  • Capacity Upgrade on Demand - A "pay as you grow" configuration option

  • Built-in service processor - the service processor monitors system operations and takes preventive or corrective actions.

  • Dynamic CPU Deallocation - Automatically deallocates resources if impending CPU failures are detected

IBM will also make available the ability to cluster up to 16 servers.

Market Impact

For those unfamiliar with the new product line names, the "eServer pSeries" is the new name for the former RS/6000 UNIX product line.

IBM is clearly continuing its assault on Sun. But that's to be expected, with Sun still believed by many to be the leading Web server vendor. IBM's take-no-prisoners attitude is exemplified by their publishing a wide range of performance benchmark data (see Table 1 below), especially in those sections of Table 1 where "Sun has not published" similar data.

The pSeries has a few things to recommend it:

  1. High performance

  2. IBM's hardware reliability

  3. IBM's breadth of products

Table 1.

Web Serving
(1) SPECweb99

Fastest Web server

7,288 simultaneous connections

Sun has not published

HP - 1,750 simultaneous connections


(1) TPC-C

Most powerful OLTP server

220,807.27 tpmC
@$43.30 /tpmC

Sun E10000 64-way
156,873.03 tpmC
@ $48.81 /tpmC

HP V2500 32-way
102,025.50 tpmC
@ $63.21 /tpmC

Java Performance
(2) VolanoMark

(1) SPECjbb2000

Top Java performance for UNIX
133,251 messages per second

56,834 operations per second

Sun results no longer available

HP has not published

Sun has not published

HP - 40,192 ops

SAP performance
(1) SAP ATO (2-tier)

Best SAP performance

8,570 assembly orders per hour

Sun has not published

HP - 2,260 assembly orders per hour

Baan performance

Best Baan performance

11,886 Baan Reference Users (BRU's)

Sun has not published

HP has not published

PeopleSoft performance

General Ledger


Best PeopleSoft Performance

15,584,416 journal lines

533,546 transactions per hour

Sun has not published

HP has not published

(1) (10/16/2000)
(2) IBM News Releases (10/16/2000)

One issue which detracts from these figures is the price/performance ratio. This was accomplished with a five-year equipment cost listed in the TPCC report at just under $7 million. Upon closer inspection: we think this is a neat trick, considering that the base cost of the server hardware (again, from the report, and without adding the costs for Oracle or for client hardware) is over $9.3 million. The difference? Deep discount - over $4.5 million. Now, discounts are certainly not un-American. We just wish vendors would maintain an apples-to-apples outlook. (IBM is not the only vendor to offer discounts, they just happen to be the vendor we're writing about today.)

User Recommendations

IBM continues to produce high-performing Unix systems. Customers already using the RS/6000 will appreciate the upgrade path. Of course, these systems aren't cheap, but we're talking about heavy-duty compute requirements, so that's to be expected.

We would not be surprised if Sun started offering discounts, just to steal some of IBM's thunder. Sun's history does not indicate a concern about what IBM does, though.

A key issue for potential customers trying to decide between IBM and Sun is that, currently, there are significantly more software apps available for Solaris than for AIX (IBM's version of Unix). For many customers wanting to have an enterprise-level system, this is a significant issue.

Editor's Note:
This article has been modified from its original form since the original publication date.

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