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IBM, Sun Release Unix Updates

IBM catches up; Sun focuses on memory

October 14, 2002 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - IBM last week released an updated version of its AIX Unix operating system, offering new partitioning and capacity-on-demand technology. And rival Sun Microsystems Inc. introduced a new version of Solaris, featuring capabilities aimed at boosting system performance and network management.

IBM's AIX 5L Version 5.2 features support for a mainframelike dynamic logical partitioning capability that allows administrators to carve up a single large IBM Unix server into multiple virtual servers as small as a single processor with 250MB of memory.

The technology allows system resources, including processors and memory, to be dynamically assigned to such partitions as needed without having to reboot the system or even bring down the partition.

Complementing this ability is a capacity-upgrade-on-demand feature that allows users to buy excess processor capacity upfront and then switch it on when it's time to upgrade.

The new support for dynamic partitioning and capacity on demand closes a vital gap in IBM's Unix story, said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H. Sun has touted its hardware-based dynamic partitioning on its high-end Unix servers since 1997. And Hewlett-Packard Co. has offered capacity on demand with its Superdome servers for well over a year.

"IBM was clearly behind in these areas," Haff said. "It has largely caught up with rivals."

Sun's new Solaris 9 9/02, meanwhile, is the first enhancement to Solaris 9 since it was announced in May. The main focus of the Sun release is more efficient use of memory, said Rich Partridge, an analyst at D.H. Brown Associates Inc. in Port Chester, N.Y.

The new Solaris version comes with a Memory Placement Optimization function that boosts large system performance by placing memory closer to the executing processor, said Bill Moffit, a Solaris line manager. Solaris 9 9/02 also features an integrated Solaris 9 IP quality of service capability that allows administrators to allocate network bandwidth to applications based on their importance.

The new releases of Solaris and AIX are available now.

Key Features

AIX 5L Version 5.2

Support for dynamic partitioning for better systems utilization.

Capacity upgrade on demand for easier upgrades.

Support for a new Cluster Systems Management technology for managing a cluster of mixed Unix and Linux servers.

Solaris 9 9/02

New Memory Placement Optimization function for boosting system performance.

IP quality of service capability to guarantee network bandwidth to key applications.

More Sun ONE middleware integration.

Read more about Linux and Unix in Computerworld's Linux and Unix Topic Center.

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