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IBM’s first two-way Opteron-based server, the eServer 325, combines 64-bit computing power, an affordable price and a rack-optimized form factor. This provides an impressive server platform for 32-bit shops that are looking to migrate to 64-bit computing down the road. With a low entry price for the performance it offers, the eServer 325, which shipped earlier this month, will be a good pick for hosting 32-bit and 64-bit applications in server farm clusters, grid computing and HPC (high-performance computing) applications, and in compute-intensive areas such as academic or scientific research.

With the ability to equip two Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Opteron processors per eServer 325, or 84 processors in a standard-size rack, IT managers can pack a lot of computing horsepower in a little space—an important factor to be considered in the HPC world.

Although the eServer 325 is a good fit for large cluster applications, not every site will need its high level of computing power. However, with its relatively low price, the compact eServer 325 can also work quite capably as a general- purpose server in many enterprises.

Unlike Intel Corp.’s Itanium 2 processors, the Opteron processors run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications natively without performance overhead, so companies can buy Opteron systems to run their 32-bit applications and operating systems while preserving their option of powering up to 64-bit down the road.

In contrast, Itanium 2 processors are designed from the ground up to run in 64-bit environments and suffer a performance penalty when running 32-bit applications in emulation mode.

The eServer 325 can be equipped with AMD Opteron processors at speeds of 1.4GHz (Opteron Model 240), 1.6GHz (Model 242) or 2GHz (Model 246). The $2,919 entry-level eServer 325 includes one 1.4GHz Opteron processor, 1GB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), an 80GB IDE hard drive, integrated management and dual embedded 10/100/1,000M-bps Gigabit Ethernet ports.

IBM, Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. also offer 64-bit servers with Itanium 2 processors but at a much higher cost.

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