Chris Hipp, "the father of blade technology" and a founder of RLX Technologies, apparently died of a heart attack July 14. Hipp was an executive with RLX when the company unveiled the first blade servers in 2001, a move that at first got little attention from the major OEMs but has since transformed the hardware industry. Hipp, an avid competitive bicycle racer, had left RLX by the time HP bought the company in 2005, and had been working with the Blade System Alliance and various startups at the time of his death.
Chris Hipp, one of the founders of RLX Technologies and a pioneer in blade
system technology, died of an apparent heart attack July 14 at the age of 49.
Details of Hipp's death are sketchy, though the Blade System Alliance, of
which he was a technology chair and an adviser, had this brief note on its Web
"Today we lost a good friend and the true founder of the Blade Server
Industry, Chris Hipp. Chris has always been an innovator and profound
technologist, providing direction and insight to the industry and especially
this association. Chris passed away after suffering a heart attack. He will be
News of his death also was circulating throughout the competitive cycling
community. Hipp was an avid racer who had ridden with Lance Armstrong.
Some tributes to Hipp from the bicycling world can be found here
However, in the technology world, Hipp will always be linked to blade servers.
On his Website
, Hipp had written about
the state of data centers in the late 1990s, and the frustration among IT
administrators over the issues associated with deploying large numbers of 1U
(1.75-inch) "pizza box" rack servers.
"It was then that I realized that there was a market for a more efficient
hardware/software platform and better tools for managing them," Hipp wrote on
the site. "It was amazing that data centers could operate with such wasteful
power consumption, horrendous cooling and cabling, and lack of reliability. The
deployment and management of these servers was becoming a headache of
catastrophic proportion. What had happened was that while tier one vendors were
busy one-upping each other by cramming hotter CPUs into smaller and smaller
sheet metal boxes, they completely forgot about efficiency! It was obvious to
me that making servers smaller, while simultaneously increasing CPU megahertz
and thermal output, was not a sustainable trend. There had to be a better way."
RLX came onto the scene in 2001 when it introduced its low-powered blade
servers, which could put 336 processors into a standard 42U (73.5-inch) rack.
The blades were powered by Transmeta's low-power Crusoe chips.
RLX officials, including Hipp, argued that blade servers, which share such
resources as networking and power, were a good alternative to traditional 1U
(1.75-inch) and 2U (3.5-inch) "pizza box" rack-mount systems, particularly in
dense data center environments for hosting companies and co-location centers.
"He was the father of blade technology when he was with RLX," Jim Hall,
president of the Blade System Alliance, said in an interview. "He invented the
Initially RLX was hampered by a number of factors, including questions
surrounding its choice of chips from Transmeta, another relatively new vendor,
and the dot-com collapse that rapidly shrunk IT budgets.