In pursuit of this goal, IBM is poised to introduce two tiers of products: a low-end blade server and an "ultra -low-end" (ULE) rack/deskside model. The initial blade server will be based on the Power PC 970 processor (known internally as the GPUL), which made its debut this month in Apple Computer Inc.'s Power Mac G5 line. A mid-2004 replacement for the blade as well as the ULE products will run on an updated version of that chip, known as the GPUL2.Servers based on the Power PC 970 could compete with systems using AMD's new Opteron and even Intel's Itanium and Xeon processors. Apple could make things even more interesting by using Power PC 970-derived G5 processors in a new Xserve system.
Though IBM's new low cost servers would more directly target systems from Sun and HP, I have to wonder if AMD might really have the most to lose. Cheap Power PC 970-based servers should be price-competitive with Opteron-based systems, and if both can run Linux, AMD could stand to lose a chunk of the server market.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like IBM's rumored plans include Linux-based workstations just yet. However, if this low-end server line is successful, I can't imagine that IBM wouldn't consider putting systems together with AGP slots. At the very least, they could leave the door open for motherboard manufacturers to build up workstation boards for the Power PC 970, though that would surely irk Apple.