New Processor Creates Double-Edged Blades

eWEEK Product Update: Intel's Low Voltage Pentium III increases capabilities of blade-server arrays.

Intel this week introduced the Low Voltage Pentium III, a processor that will allow manufacturers to build ultradense server blades that support two processors per blade.

Ultradense server blades have the main components (processor, memory, hard drive, motherboard) condensed in a compact PCI card form, and multiple blades are housed in a rack-mount chassis with shared power and networking interconnects.

Thin server blades were initially targeted for top-tier applications such as Web services. The blade servers small footprint saves space and power costs while increasing computational density in data centers and service provider environments.

Intel is the first in the industry to offer dual-processor chips for the thin server blade market. Intels new 800MHz Low Voltage Pentium III processor has a faster FSB (front side bus) of 133MHz and can support up to 4GB of PC133 static dynamic RAM. The 800MHz dual-processor chips consume more power—11.2 watts—compared to the 8.5 watts consumed by their predecessors, the 700MHz Ultra Low Voltage Pentium IIIs. The 700MHz ULV Pentium III chips support a 100MHz FSB with as much as 2GB of PC100 SDRAM and are featured in blade systems from Compaq and HP.

However, the performance gains with faster clock speed, FSB, and more memory support easily compensate for the increased power consumption, board space, and overall costs of the 800MHz dual-processor blades.

With the release of dual-processor blades, vendors can expand the thin server blades usage to higher levels in the enterprise, harnessing their power for database, e-mail and multimedia applications.

Compaq and HP both use Intel chips. RLX first offered blades based on Transmeta Crusoe processor, but will begin to release new blades with low-power Intel chips.

The Crusoe has lower power consumption and gives off less heat than the Pentium but lacks error-correcting code support, an important feature in the sever market.

E-mail eWEEK Labs Technical Analyst Francis Chu