Gearing-up for the introduction of 64-bit Apache- and PowerPC 620-based systems in October, IBM Corp will next week provide some late-life juice to its 32-bit RS/6000 AIX servers, announcing higher-performing PowerPC 604e processor options as well as cutting prices by up to 30% (CI No 3,040). Continuing the transition to Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus architecture IBM is also replacing another of its Micro Channel Architecture (MCA) servers with a new PCI bus F50 server. In addition, a new 4.2.1 cut of its AIX Unix operating system to be bundled with all RS/6000s will begin to unleash IBM's Network Stations onto the market by providing limited support for Big Blue's flavor of network computers, which are built by Network Computing Devices Inc. IBM is also extending clustering and internet software options on the RS/6000 boxes, but what's still missing is the long-promised re-branding of the line that will spare us from the alphabet soup of naming and numbering schemes it currently uses. It is touting the new PCI bus RS/6000 Model F50 as the industry's fastest internet server. With up to four 166MHz PowerPC 604e processors, the F50 is claimed to deliver 2148 HTTP operations per second in SPECweb96 benchmarking. The system comes with 128Mb to 3Gb RAM and is priced from $29,000. It's touted as a replacement for the four-way MCA G40 unit, though customers are being offered end-of-life G40 kickers in the form of 187MHz 604e upgrades for their 112MHz systems. The eight- way 112MHz R40 rack-mount and J40 deskside MCA servers are being offered with 200MHz 604e parts as the R50 and J50; entry-level prices are reduced to $64,000 and $54,000 respectively. The PCI bus deskside E20, E30 uniprocessors and F40 two-way servers will be offered with 233MHz 604e parts. IBM says F50 will become the first RS/6000 to roll off the AS/400 production line, in June. IBM's Rochester, Minnesota facility will be manufacturing all RS/6000s formerly built by the Austin, Texas plant by the end of the year. The new AIX 4.2.1 will provide some limited support for IBM Network Stations; devices booted from a particular server will be able to download applications and upload new data - but only to the server it booted from. IBM will the rev the software within two months to enable the Network Stations to upload and download to multiple RS/6000s. AIX 4.2.1 also offers updated support for NFS, internet mail server, security, system administration and TCP/IP. A new release of the High Availability Cluster Multi-Processing to support AIX 4.2.1 includes an additional HAView component enabling administrators to monitor HACMP clusters across a network from a single node through Tivoli TME 10 NetView for AIX. The company expects to get more specific about its Phoenix clustering APIs shortly, and says that while it is still evaluating Non Uniform Memory Access technologies such as S-COMA, it will extend RS/6000 scaling with additional symmetric multiprocessing technologies through 1998, not with NUMA. It will also offer a new version of its Internet PowerSolution - an RS/6000 server pre-configured with a raft of internet software. The new package includes AIX 4.2 - but apparently not 4.2.1 so this isn't a Network Station server - Lotus Domino 4.5, 20 general business applications, Netscape Calendar Server version 1, Firewall 3.1 for AIX, Internet Connection Secure Server 4.2 and Net.Commerce version 2. IBM is saving its workstation kickers until next week to garner widest possible coverage.