Intel, Fujitsu To Build High-End Servers

Xeon-powered systems will ship next year, 128-processor Itanium systems are due in 2005.

Intel Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. will jointly develop a series of high-end servers that will be powered by Intel chips and run on Linux.

The two companies made their announcement late Thursday during an event in Tokyo.

The goal is to start rolling out 32-bit systems powered by Intels Xeon processors by the end of 2004. A year later, Fujitsu will release 64-bit Itanium-based systems, including servers that will scale up to 128 processors.

For Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., the development deal is the latest push of its processors—particularly the Itanium chip—into the highest end of enterprise computing. Earlier this month, supercomputer maker SGI—formerly Silicon Graphics Inc.—unveiled its Altix 3000 family of high-end systems that are powered by Itanium 2 and run Linux. Those systems will complement SGIs proprietary MIPS/Irix systems.

Also, Hewlett-Packard Co.—which co-developed the Itanium chip—this summer will roll out its Itanium-based 64-processor Superdome server that will enable users to run Linux, Windows and HP-UX simultaneously.

"[The deal with Fujitsu] shows that this is the way the industry is pretty much moving," said Richard Dracott, group director for Intel Enterprise Marketing.

For Fujitsu, this is a way of expanding its offerings, according to Jack Hirano, deputy general manager of Fujitsu America.

"This is not a change of our business strategy," Hirano said. "This is an enhancement. This is a great opportunity for us to strengthen our position."

Fujitsu already has a suite of Intel-based servers, the Primergy line. However, its top line of servers—the PrimePower suite—features Sun Microsystems Inc.s UltraSparc processors and Solaris operating system.

"This is a plus for both companies," said Andrew Butler, an analyst with Garnter Inc., in London. "It shows a determination on the part of Fujitsu I havent seen in the past."

This will push Fujitsu, which has a U.S. presence but is more successful in Asia and Europe, into closer competition with vendors like HP and Unisys Corp. in the high-end Intel computing arena, Butler said. An important decision in a couple of years for Fujitsu will be whether to merge the new servers with the PrimePower line, giving users one series of servers that will run either Unix or Linux, he said.

"Theyre going to have positioning problems unless they have a single slate of [high-end] servers," Butler said.