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IBM Lobs Benchmark at Sun

There is little cheer between IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and its Unix archrival Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) this holiday season.

IBM, which is never one to miss a marketing opportunity, has fired a shot across Suns bows. The hardware giant has teamed up with supply chain specialist Manugistics Inc. to test the vendor’s NetWORKS Fulfillment application on its new pSeries 590 Unix server.

The method in IBM’s madness? Sun tested the same application on its own Sun Fire 6800 Unix machines last year. And here's the surprise: IBM says it has blown the doors off its rival’s performance figures (see IBM Outperforms Sun).

The benchmark volley comes at an opportune time. For both IBM and Sun, selling hardware into retailers is big business -- and this is the time of year when servers come under the most strain.

In the test, a single 590 running 32 Power5 processors was capable of handling 38.4 million Stock Keeping Units per hour, according to IBM and Manugistics. In plain English, this means that the machine can "ring up" nearly 40 million retail items per hour, like an enormous cash register.

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