IBM New UNIX Computer P690 Term Paper

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IBM New UNIX Computer Over the past years, Sun has managed to take the lion's share of the market for servers running the UNIX operating system. By putting mainframe-style features such as partitioning into its servers, and building hardware for its own Solaris operating system, Sun managed to take the lead with their UNIX systems (Vance).

With the release of its p690 server, however, IBM is giving Sun some heavy competition and creating a more competitive environment that could benefit users.

Designed for large, single-system applications and server consolidation, the power of the p690 comes from its unusual combination of advanced microprocessor technology, enhanced memory capability and increased I/O bandwidth. Eminently scalable, multiple p690 servers can be clustered to form supercomputers of more than 512 processors when complex problems demand it ("pSeries 690").

The core of the p690 is IBM's POWER4 chip. With a processing speed of 1.1-1.3 GHz, the POWER4 microprocessor represents a significant leap in chip technology. The POWER4 chip is a single piece of silicon containing two processors, a shared L2 cache and switching technology. Each L2 cache can transfer up to 125GB of data per second to the processors - fast enough to fill 25 full-length DVDs in one second ("pSeries 690").

According to IBM, the p690 can support up to 32 Power4 processors running at either 1.1GHz or 1.3GHz. Users can run either AIX 5L or Linux as their OS.


The design enables the server to conserve energy and dramatically outperform servers that have more than twice as many processors.
Ultra-dense building blocks -- The building block is a palm-sized, eight-processor, multi-chip module with the equivalent processing power of much larger system boards in competing high-end servers. As a result, the IBM server packs more computing power in less floor space and consumes less power than competing systems.

Virtualization -- It can be operated either as a single large server or divided into as many as 16 "virtual" servers, running any combination of the AIX 5L and Linux operating systems. The p690 will be able to dynamically reconfigure partitions -- while still operating -- to meet changing workload demands. This makes it possible for users to create 16 virtual partitions. A single partition can be created using one processor, 1G byte of memory and one PCI or Peripheral Component Interconnect adapter ("IBM launches World's most powerful server").

The p690 offers the Unix market's most flexible and efficient use of processors, memory and I/O resources, enables customers to create virtual servers with a single processor or…

Sources Used in Documents:


IBM launches World's most powerful server." October 4, 2001. IBM Press release. Available at,+IBM+p690&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 pSeries 690." pSeries 690 Virtual Tour. Available at

Vance, Ashelee. "IBM set to sail Regatta." ITWorld. October 4, 2001. available from

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