One of the hottest--and most profitable--segments of the personal-computer business is the market for network servers--the shadowy machines that work in the background to control networks of desktop PCs. According to market researcher International Data Corp., sales of these computers will climb from $4.7 billion last year to $7.4 billion in 1996. And while Compaq and Dell have been cashing in on this booming business, PC industry leader IBM has been slow to develop its own line of network servers.
Now, Big Blue wants to catch up. IBM's six-month-old PC-server business unit has come out with its first server designed specifically for small businesses and departments or branch offices of big companies. The IBM PC Server--priced from $2,499 to $4,499--is based on Intel Corp.'s ultrafast Pentium chip, but IBM says there's a lot more under the skin than just a zippy microchip. For starters, it uses a new design to dissipate the unwanted heat generated by the notoriously hot Pentium chip. What's more, IBM says it has made the machines much easier to upgrade by pre-wiring for devices such as hard drives, so that customers or resellers don't spend hours installing gear or need to call in a technician.