HP Revs Up Blade Servers

Hewlett-Packard has bulked up its line of blade servers with faster processors and a new Gigabit Ethernet switch.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has bulked up its line of blade servers with faster processors and a new Gigabit Ethernet switch.

Officials with the Palo Alto, Calif., company on Wednesday said they have upgraded their one-processor ProLiant BL10e with Intel Corp.s Pentium M chip, which was designed with notebooks in mind and offers less power consumption and heat generation than larger Pentium chips.

The BL10e now uses a 1GHz Ultra Low Voltage Pentium M chip, with up to 1MB of Level 2 cache and support for a 400MHz front-side bus.

The two-way BL20p has been enhanced with 3.06GHz Xeons, and up to 1MB of Level 3 cache and support for a 533MHz front-side bus. The four-way BL40p now is powered by either 2GHz Xeon MP chips with 1MB of cache or 2.8GHz chips with 2MB of cache.

Sally Stevens, director of blade server platforms for HP, said the company designed enough headroom in the areas of power and cooling in the blades to enable quick upgrades when Intel releases new chips.

In addition, HP introduced a new networking switch, the 24-port ProLiant GbE2, that will plug into the chassis holding the BL20p and BL40p blades. The Gigabit Ethernet switch, designed by Nortel Networks Inc., comes six months after HP announced the second-generation BL20p with storage area network connectivity.

"One of the good things about blades is the consolidation of interconnects," said James Mouton, vice president for platforms in HPs Industry Standard Servers unit. Its easier to bring the connectivity to a chassis, which serves multiple blades, rather than having it come out of each server, he said.

Stevens said the company is looking to increase the connectivity capabilities in the blades, and in the future will add support for Layer 3-7 switching and 10GB Ethernet.

"[The enhancements] show the continued investment in the blade architecture," he said. "We are serious about blades."

Both Mouton and Stevens said the company has shipped more than 30,000 blade servers since introducing the systems in January 2002.