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New Generation of eServers Offers Major Leap in Performance

Not surprisingly, HP and Sun are questioning the tests, but there's no denying that IBM is now a serious contender. After years of pushing mediocre RISC-based machines, Big Blue can at long last challenge its competitors solely on performance.

IBM's timing is good. Both HP's and Sun's Unix server architectures are in flux--HP is switching from RISC to Intel's Itanium, and Sun is implementing Fujitsu's high-end Sparc64 processor. With the availability of the p5-based machines and the new processors from Sun and HP, you can throw out all your previous research on the relative performance of the big-name Unix servers. It's a new ball game.

One possible sticking point is IBM's AIX operating system, which was written for RISC. IBM created compatibility problems when it upgraded from AIX 4.3.3 to the p4-capable AIX 5L 5.1. AIX 5L 5.3 is scheduled for release later this summer, and customers may have to deploy the new OS to take full advantage of some p5-model capabilities, such as multithreading.

OS issues aside, users considering new Unix servers should take a hard look at the p5-based IBM models. They're not your father's RS/6000s. --Tim Wilson

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