Shrinking Feature-Rich Servers

HP and Stratus squeeze extra horsepower into Intel-based servers, yet reduce footprint.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Stratus Technologies Inc. this week will each unveil their own dense, rack-optimized servers that take the same—or better—features of full-size servers and shrink them into smaller boxes.

HP will roll out the ProLiant DL560, a four-processor, Intel Corp.-based system housed in a 2U (3.5-inch) design. The Palo Alto, Calif., company is aiming the server at enterprises that dont want to pay for the memory and I/O capabilities of a traditional four-way system, HP officials said.

Although half the size of HPs four-way ProLiant DL580 server, the DL560 features 2GHz Xeon chips, Gigabit Ethernet networking, PCI-X architecture and up to 12GB of memory, officials said. Component redundancy and online spare memory will also help increase application availability, they said. The DL560 is available now, with pricing starting at $7,099.

Separately, Stratus will release its ftServer 3300 series, a one- or two-processor system that includes faster CPUs, more memory and a larger cache than the current ft3200 but comes in rack configurations that are half the size of the ft3200. The ft3300 system also comes in a pedestal configuration.

The entry-level ft3300 is the first of an across-the-board refresh to Stratus entire line of fault-tolerant servers, which will also include updates to its midtier ft5240 and high-end ft6500 lines, said David Laurello, Stratus president and chief operating officer, at the companys headquarters here last week. The rollout will happen over the next six months, Laurello said.

The company is also looking to port some industry-standard components of its fault-tolerant servers—such as processors from Intel—into its Continuum line of mainframe servers, Laurello said. The new fault-tolerant servers also eventually will run Linux, he said. Initially, they will run Windows 2000 Advanced Server and will support Windows Server 2003 when it is released this spring.

The ft3300, available this week, comes in a 4U (7-inch) rack equipped with one or two 2.4GHz Xeon chips, up to 3GB of memory, and six PCI slots. By comparison, the ft3200 has an 8U (14-inch) rack configuration, an Intel 800MHz Pentium III chip and up to 2MB of memory. The ft3300 also includes Stratus Failsafe resource protection software and its ActiveService Architecture, which features fault detection and hot-swappable components. Despite its more appealing size and enhanced components, the ft3300 is priced starting at about $22,000, which is comparable to the price of the companys ft3200 model.

For IT administrators trying to consolidate their applications onto fewer servers, having that much performance in a small box is attractive. Viking Range Corp. runs one of its Microsoft Corp. Exchange applications on a Stratus ft3200. The Greenwood, Miss., company is considering consolidating its other Exchange domains onto one server and will look at the ft3300 because of its combination of performance and size.

"We are looking at one box to put all these domains on," said Shyam Ramachandran, vice president of IT at Viking. "We will look at the 3300. Its good if you can save some space. We are running out of space [in the data center] all the time."