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IBM is ramping up the processor speed and memory capacity of its high-end eServer p690 systems by offering 1.9GHz Power4+ processors in the eight- to 32-way servers.

The upgrade comes a week after the Armonk, N.Y., company announced that a 32-way p690 set benchmark records for transaction processing, and that a German company, Juelich Research Center, is planning to use 41 of the systems as the base for a new supercomputer.

The move also comes as IBM prepares for the introduction in the second half of the year of its Power5 chip, which IBM officials said will offer significant improvements in performance and virtualization capabilities.

“This is an important table-setter for us,” said James McGaughan, director of eServer strategy at IBM. “While we’ve been setting up for Power5, we’re still enhancing P4+.”

The new chip will enable p690 users to upgrade from the current Power4+ chips—running at speeds of up to 1.7GHz—to the 1.9GHz processors. IBM also is doubling the memory capacity to 1TB. In addition, the new chip comes with a faster memory speed—from 567MHz to 633MHz—and 128MB of Level 3 cache.

Enterprises running p690 systems with the 1.1GHz or 1.3GHz Power 4 chips, or the 1.5GHz or 1.7GHz Power 4+, can upgrade to the 1.9GHz chip.

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