Cool Running The first blade servers on the market utilized mobile PC processors because they ran cooler and used less power, which are required of the ultradense designs. HPs Proliant BL e-class featured a 700MHz Intel Pentium III processor originally designed as a notebook chip."The priorities in developing the e-class were around low voltage, high density and performance, in that order," said McDowell, who oversaw Compaqs Industry Standard Servers prior to the HP buyout. But HP took a different tack in developing its p-class servers, moving to a dual-processor blade this quarter and a four-Xeon blade server in early 2003. "Were starting to design more for the true enterprise customer, and so were starting to see the density designs get balanced with needs for performance and availability characteristics as well," she said. "In the p-class, it is really the triangulation of performance, availability and density." While HP has yet to reveal how many blades its p-class will pack into a rack, the use of hotter, power-hungry Xeon chips is expected to result in a system featuring less than half as many blades per rack as the e-class. But by sacrificing some density, customers will be able to tap more performance, McDowell said. "Weve been in beta with our dual-processor machines for about nine months, and during that time were seeing more use of Microsoft Exchange and application server software like Citrix," she said. "Citrix seems like its going to be a hot segment for blades." HPs blade sales are also helping boost the companys software revenues, since management software is crucial to deploying and monitoring the servers, which must rely on external storage. "Its definitely not a hardware-only play," McDowell said. "The software attach rates are running close to 50 percent. We hadnt had an explicit software for revenue business before, so were pleased to see a strong pickup of that." Related stories:
Evaluation: Blade to Order
HP, RLX Sharpen Blade Servers
IBM Strengthens Ultradense Blade Server
Dell is New "Blade" Runner
Tech Analysis: Sharpening Server Blades
However, such chips were less than ideal for running compute-intensive business applications, spurring computer makers to target their systems at mostly Web hosting companies and Internet service providers who could deploy them for simple tasks, such as serving up static Web pages.