February 05, 2013, 12:10 AM —
Image credit: flickr/charliecurve
IBM's Watson supercomputer outperformed humans in the televised game show "Jeopardy." Now the company is moving some of its underlying technologies from the supercomputer into new entry-level servers.
The company's new Power Express servers announced on Tuesday will integrate some hardware and software elements derived from Watson. The servers start at $5,947, and IBM is targeting the new products at businesses with over 100 employees.
The new Power Express 710, 720, 730 and 740 servers include IBM's Power7+ chips, which were introduced in October. By lowering the price of the servers, IBM hopes to take on rivals like Hewlett-Packard and Dell, which sell large volumes of commodity servers based on x86 chips.
With Watson technologies, companies can use the new servers to analyze warehouses of data, and to answer complex queries with high levels of confidence. The technologies will provide insights into structured and unstructured data at a cheaper cost, said Steve Sibley, director of Power Systems offering management at IBM.
"The ability to leverage that capability for analytics is more affordable than ever," Sibley said.
Watson used advanced algorithms and a natural language interface to answer questions on Jeopardy, but not all advanced technologies will make it to the new entry-level servers. Some common features such as the core customized software to analyze warehouses of data will be available depending on the price, configuration and target market. Another technology being adopted from Watson is Hadoop, a scalable computing environment that deals with large data sets. IBM's Cognos and SPSS software can be built on top of the integrated offerings for business and predictive analytics.
The servers can be used by mid-size clients to more effectively manage supply chains, Sibley said. Using software and hardware, the servers can help manage inventory or build catalogs, Sibley said.
IBM's Power offerings have traditionally appealed to large organizations, though some smaller companies have adopted the servers. Power servers have done well in industries like healthcare and retail, and the Power Express servers may be attractive to small or midmarket companies in the same industries, Sibley said.