As PC sales continue to list, a handful of companies are readying high-end systems ranging from high-density, rack-mounted servers to robust mainframes to help IT better manage the enterprise.
RLX Technologies Inc., Dell Computer Corp. and IBM this week will unveil blade servers, rack-mounted servers and low-priced mainframes, respectively, giving IT managers a fresh crop of back-end alternatives.
For those seeking to ease overcrowding in data centers, RLX this week will roll out its first Intel Corp.-based, high-density blade system thats capable of packing 336 servers into an industry-standard rack originally designed to hold 42. The ServerBlade 800i is the first product from RLX not based on microprocessors from Transmeta Corp., underscoring the companys efforts to make its products more appealing to enterprise customers that prefer the higher performance—and reputation—Intel offers.
Officials with the company, based in The Woodlands, Texas, said they were eager to get their technology out a year ago and chose Transmeta for its experience in serving low-end Web applications.
However, the company now wants to position its blade systems to handle more robust applications that require higher performance. But just as important, adding Intel-based products should alleviate some enterprise users concerns about using Transmetas Crusoe chip, which was originally designed for ultralight notebooks and handheld PCs.
However, despite the adoption of the Intel-based chip, Transmeta will remain in RLXs arsenal, the officials said.
One RLX user said that while Intel chips may offer better performance, hes wary of abandoning Transmetas cooler-running chips.
"The Intel chips will burn hotter, and I question whether that is going to affect the reliability of the system," said Wu Feng, technical staff member at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who built a Linux cluster using RLX blades.
Overall, Feng said he is pleased with RLXs design. "We have another 128-processor system that fails often enough and takes up so much room that were just going to punt it. Were going to try going more toward these types of blades," he said.
For companies looking for more traditional rack-mounted solutions, Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, this week will introduce two systems, the PowerEdge 1650 and 4600.
The 1650 is targeted at handling Internet applications, such as Web hosting, as well as more demanding applications such as Microsoft Corp.s Commerce Server. The heftier 6U-size (10.5-inch-tall) 4600 supports dual Intel Xeon processors and as many as 10 hard drives for an internal storage capacity of up to 730GB.
To combat the onslaught of blade and rack-mounted servers, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., this week will step up its recent efforts to prod companies to switch from multiple servers to big-iron mainframes with its introduction of a relatively low-priced product line. The z800, which is capable of consolidating up to hundreds of Intel or Sun Microsystems Inc. servers on a single physical box, has an entry- level price of $250,000, well below the $750,000 starting price for IBMs next-higher zSeries server, the z900.