Thin is in, as sales of slim, rack-mounted servers continue to soar and competition for customers heats up with two more major computer makers entering the fray. In addition, a startup may shake up things later this year when it introduces an ultracompact server featuring a vertical "blade design."
While rack-mounted servers come in various sizes, the most popular are the slimmest versions. Shaped like a pizza box, so-called 1U servers are about 1.75 inches thick and feature one or two chips.
Thin servers typically sell for $2,000 to $4,000 each. In addition, companies can easily scale their computing power to meet growing needs simply by adding servers. By contrast, high-end servers can cost $1 million and are often too expensive and powerful for smaller companies.
Compaq Computer Corp., of Houston, is the leading supplier of rack-mounted servers. Last week, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. each unveiled their first 1U servers. The NetServer LP 1000R from HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., features dual Intel Corp. Pentium III processors and starts at $3,799. Sun, also of Palo Alto, introduced the Cobalt RaQ XTR, featuring dual Pentium IIIs and starting at $4,799.
And the startup, RLX Technologies Inc., of Houston, is not only offering an even slimmer form factor but also reducing two key problems associated with rack servers: heat and power consumption. Led by former Compaq executives Gary Stimac and Michael Swavely, RLXs newly designed thin server, code-named Razor, will feature low-power processors from Transmeta Corp., of Santa Clara, Calif. Its set to go on sale later this year.