Intel Brandishes Blades

The chip maker enters the blade server market with dual-processor blades co-developed with IBM.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—On Wednesday, Intel Corp. will announce at its Intel Developer Forum here its entrance into the blade server market, seeding the enterprise market with blades in much the same way it has supplied motherboards to the desktop market.

What was known internally at Intel as the "Hampton-E" on Wednesday will be sold as the "DP Intel Xeon Processor Server Compute Blade," a dual-processor blade co-developed with IBM.

The Intel-IBM collaboration was announced a year ago. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., began selling the blades last December "and cant keep them on the shelves," said Robert Nelson, global product marketing manager for the blades.

The blades will be sold to eight to 10 OEMs and distributors at launch, with the goal of raising that to about 15 by early next year, said a source at Intel, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Intel executives will disclose the dual-processor blade, code-named Laurel, as well as an MP blade, dubbed McCarran, that will ship in the fourth quarter. Fourteen of the dual-processor blades will fit within a standard chassis, according to Ajay Malhotra, general manager of the enterprise marketing and planning group at Intel. The MP blade will contain four Xeon chips, said a source at one of Intels blade customers. Pricing was not available.


Although Intels entrance into the blade server market will compete with its customers, Intels argument is that the move will help drive "a standardized form factor" and open up the market, according to Malhotra.

"Its super strategic for us," Malhotra said. "Theres a lot of momentum behind blades and those form factors. If we can drive a standardized form factor, we can help customers adopt and drive more dense computing structures."

Intel will bundle management software from Veritas Corp. with the blades, Malhotra said.

"We quickly picked up on this, as an Intel partner," said Jeff Harris, a sales executive with computer systems manufacturer Ciara Technology. Ciaras blades will ship with up to 2GB of ECC memory and bays for either IDE or SCSI hard disks.

Although Ciara only had four blades to display Tuesday, Harris said he isnt worried about shortages. "Whatever Intel builds, we get," he said.