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IBM it taking advantage of dual-core technology to bring enterprise server features to businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

The Armonk, N.Y., company on Tuesday is rolling out the xSeries 100 server, with a choice of processors, including Intel Corp.’s dual-core Pentium D chip. Other options include the single-core Celeron and Pentium 4 processors.

The dual-core technology enables IBM to put enterprise features, such as DDR 2 memory and tape backup—and better performance—into systems smaller businesses can afford, said Stuart McRae, worldwide marketing manager for IBM’s xSeries systems. It gives users much of the performance of a dual-processor server in a system holding only on chip, he said.

“Dual-core has made the environment right for the delivering of more functions,” McRae said.

Memory, hard drives and I/O can be added to the single-socket x100, which IBM also is backing up with all the services and supports larger systems receive, he said. Starting at $599, it’s available immediately both from IBM and the channel.

Dual-core chips have two processing “cores” on a single piece of silicon. The technology has been available for several years on RISC-based systems, including IBM’s Power architecture and Sun Microsystems Inc.’s SPARC platform, but only arrived in the x86 space this year when Advanced Micro Devices Inc. put it onto its Opteron chips for servers and workstations

AMD has since rolled out dual-core Athlon 64 chips for desktops and notebooks. Intel has dual-core capabilities on several Pentium models, and in October is expected to unveil the first of its dual-core Xeon processors. The first dual-core Itanium processor will arrive later this year, with the release of “Montecito.”

Intel on Monday released the last of its single-core Xeons, a 3.8GHz chip with 2MB of Level 2 cache.

The x100 is one of three systems being launched Tuesday by IBM as part of its IBM Express Portfolio of solutions aimed at SMBs (small and midsize businesses) that include a package of hardware, operating systems and applications. The other two systems include the x206 and x306, both targeted at SMBs and both offering single-core or dual-core Intel chips.

IBM defines SMBs as businesses with up to 1,000 employees.

The x206 and x306 are built on the second generation of IBM’s XDA (Xtended Design Architecture), a package of features designed to bring mainframe-like reliability and availability capabilities to industry-standard systems. For these SMB systems, that includes a choice of hard drives, redundant power options, integrated RAID capabilities and an integrated IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) controller that enables remote management of the servers.

Notebook PCs are going to dual-core processors. Click here to read more.

“Small and midsize business is a broad group of customers with varying needs,” McRae said. “It’s not just about delivering costs … but also all the other availability features.”

The x206 can come in a tower or 5U (8.75-inch) rack configuration with Pentium D or single-core Pentium 4 chips. The x306 is a 1U (1.75-inch) rack-optimized system that runs on Pentium 4.

The x206 and x306 will be available in mid-October, starting at $699 and $1,089 respectively. Both of these servers and the x100 can run Linux operating systems from Red Hat Inc. or Novell Inc.’s Suse Linux unit or Microsoft Corp.’s Small Business Server and Server 2003.

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