Servers Look Beyond Chips

Three of the largest server providers-IBM, HP and Dell- are enhancing their low-end servers with new chips and management capabilities aimed at one- or two-processor systems for grid computing.

IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. are each revamping their low-end servers with new Intel Corp. chips and diverse management capabilities aimed at enterprises that are increasingly buying one- or two-processor systems for grid and clustered computing.

Ninety percent of the x86 servers sold last year were equipped with one or two processors, according to IDC, in Framingham, Mass., and a recent survey found that IBM users are running up to 75 percent of key applications on two-way systems, said officials of the Armonk, N.Y., company.

"If youre just starting out, [grid computing] is the way to go," said IBM customer Donald Canning, vice president of IT at Prudential Financial Group Insurance, in Livingstone, N.J. "Particularly since the hardware is so cheap. Ive been looking for years to find cheaper, better ways of building parallel systems."

All three OEMs will give servers a boost with Intels release this week of the E7520 chip set, which enables the Santa Clara, Calif., companys Nocona 32-bit processor with 64-bit extensions.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about a glitch found that affects Noconas supporting chip sets.

IBM will release seven Nocona-equipped servers and a workstation this month and in September and will differentiate the systems with mainframe-style capabilities packaged under the name XDA (Xtended Design Architecture). Key among new XDA features is Calibrated Vectored Cooling, a cooling system that lets IBM put more components in a smaller footprint, officials said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read how Fujitsus beefing up utility computing with a new two-way server.

HP this week will make available ProLiant systems that use the Nocona, including the rack-optimized DL360 and 380 systems and tower ML350 and 370 servers.

The BL20p blade server with Nocona chips will be available next month. HP differentiates the systems with such features as embedded RAID controllers and Lights-Out automated management, said officials in Palo Alto, Calif.

Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, this week will roll out four Nocona-based two-way PowerEdge servers—the 1800 and 2800 tower systems, which will be available in October, and the rack-mounted 1850 and 2850, available now. The Nocona chip will appear in new Dell blade servers next quarter, officials said.

Dell will bundle the servers with Version 4 of its OpenManage systems management software. The upgrade supports Intelligent Platform Management Interface 1.5 management controllers, letting users remotely monitor systems with whatever management software they choose, as well as optional DRACs (Dell Remote Access Cards), which enable remote server installation and fault recovery, officials said.

Paul Froutan, vice president of engineering for Rackspace Managed Hosting—part of Rackspace Ltd.—said the remote access cards are critical to his hosting business, which has 10,000 servers in four data centers.

"With DRAC installed in the servers, all of a sudden I can do [remote] management," said Froutan, in San Antonio, who has tested a PowerEdge 2850.

Several other vendors also are planning Nocona-based rollouts. Gateway Inc., of Poway, Calif., later in the third quarter will unveil its 955 1U system, and in the fourth quarter will upgrade its 960 and 980 tower systems and 975 2U rack server, said Tim Diefenthaler, senior director of servers and storage for Gateway. Acer America Corp., of San Jose, Calif., in September will unveil the entry-level Altos G520 and high-end G710, which will offer memory mirroring and memory sparing capabilities, said Frank Chang, product manager for servers at Acer. While offering PCI Express, it also will support legacy PCI-X, Chang said.

Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp. will upgrade its Primergy RX300 rack server, TX300 tower and BX600 blade system with Nocona and Lindenhurst, said officials with the Sunnyvale, Calif., company.

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