Compagnie des Machines Bull SA is today set to announce plans to sell on IBM Corp’s 64-bit RS/6000 Raven symmetrical multiprocessing server technology, something that IBM at one time said the French company wouldn’t get access to. As part of another extension to their 1992 agreement, Bull will resell the Raven servers as high-end RL Rack Large servers as part of its Escala line. Bull, which developed significant pieces of technology for IBM’s original RS/6000s, which it rebadges under the Escala name, will also offer existing customers a route to 64-bits via the four-way PowerPC 620 boards codenamed Pegakid its been trying to get to market for more than a year now (CI No 2,837). The four-way boards, which have been developed around 200MHz parts supplied to Bull by Motorola Inc, are expected to be available during the first quarter of next year as hot-swap board upgrades. As well as implementing IBM’s 64-bit AIX 4.3 operating system across the existing Escalas, Bull will differentiate the boxes from IBM’s own by offering them with its home-grown PowerCluster clustering technologies, management software, and connections to its proprietary GCOS mainframes. The four-to-12 processor Ravens will be marketed as high-end database servers, above current standalone Escalas. Bull says it will be able to offer 64-way clustering across the Escala line by the end of next year. Part of its extended technology agreement with IBM calls for the development of ccNUMA support on top of AIX 4.3, and Bull says it will offer distributed shared memory configurations starting some time next year. Its up to IBM, which has its own ccNUMA effort underway, whether it picks up Bulls work. Meantime, although Motorola and IBM are to fulfill existing PowerPC 620 commitments, the ill-fated 64-bit PowerPC chip does not figure in IBMs future plans, while their Somerset joint design shop has not disclosed its final intent for the design. While Bull says Motorola will continue to supply 620s to it for as long as it wishes, it admits theres nothing currently showing on any roadmap which will take-over when the 620 current design needs refreshing in a couple of years. The 32-bit Escala servers are not upgradeable to the 64-bit PowerPC Apache chip used in the Raven servers and developed by IBMs AS/400 division. IBM Microelectronics recently disclosed plans for its own 64-bit Power3 architecture, previously known as the PowerPC 630 (CI No 3,269).
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