RLX Turns to Intel for New Blade Server Line

High-density server maker RLX will introduce a new system next week that features CPUs from Intel, marking a break from the company's previous reliance on low-power chips from Transmeta.

High-density server maker RLX Technologies Inc. will introduce a new system next week that features processors from Intel Corp., marking a break from the companys previous reliance on low-power chips from Transmeta Inc.

Despite the computer makers decision to adopt Intel-based processors for future systems, RLX has no plans to halt its use of Transmetas Crusoe chips, sources said.

"Were still committed to Transmeta for a low-power solution," one source inside RLX said. "Intel just provides us with a more high-performance solution."

RLX, based in The Woodlands, Texas, initially relied on Transmeta processors in its servers because it believed the chips low-energy consumption and cooler-running temperatures best addressed power consumption and cooling costs concerns associated with its high-density server.

But while enterprise users expressed interest in RLXs design, which could pack 324 blade servers into an industry standard rack designed to hold only 42, the computer makers sole reliance on Crusoe processors met some resistance.

"There are some enterprise customers who arent comfortable with a Transmeta chip," the source said.

In fact, prior to RLXs server release, Transmeta processors had never been offered in a server or enterprise-class system. The chips, which were introduced in 2000, were primarily designed to power ultralight notebooks and handheld devices.

In defending RLXs decision to use Transmeta in early 2001, company officials argued that giant chipmaker Intel had no suitable products to meet their needs.

But then last year Intel unveiled plans to introduce ultra-low-voltage Pentium processors and chipsets designed specifically for use in new blade servers. Within months of RLXs product release, several major computer makers announced their own blade designs based on Intel chips, including Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

While theres some industry debate about whether Intels chips can yet match the low-power consumption of Transmetas processors, Intels processors are widely seen as offering higher performance.

Giving the increasingly competitive environment for the emerging blade server market and Intels more attractive product lineup, RLX decided to adopt Intel chips in an attempt to broaden its appeal to customers.

"Were basically going with a dual-path product line to address various customer needs," said the RLX representative. "Transmeta is attractive for those seeking the lowest energy consumption, while Intel will be the choice for those seeking the most performance."