RealTime IT News

Dell Debuts 64-bit Itanium Server

With little fanfare Monday, Dell announced its most powerful server to date, a 64-bit system based on Intel's Itanium architecture.

The PowerEdge 7250 server was created to run the heaviest applications in customers' data centers, including database software and applications for customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) .

With the Round Rock, Texas, company's commitment to open standards, Dell said in a press statement the new machine is an attractive alternative to systems from rival vendors, such as IBM , Sun Microsystems and HP .

The vendor also said the machine's high floating-point performance and ability to scale to include more memory make it an attractive server for high-performance computing cluster environments, such as financial modeling, life sciences and digital animation.

Tim Golden, director of PowerEdge server marketing at Dell, said Itanium is an important part of the company's product line, which is geared toward luring customers away from proprietary RISC-based systems.

"We are going to be refreshing out entire 32-bit server line this summer with the 64-bit extensions to the 32-bit line," Golden told internetnews.com. "But in terms of raw application performance, we've got that for our 32-bit customers and this [PowerEdge 7250] for our 64-bit customers."

Golden said some 400 applications have been certified on Itanium, which was not the case a year ago when the company entered the Itanium market with its PowerEdge 3250. Now, Dell is poised to go after the financial community "very aggressively," Golden said.

At a starting price point of $12,499, the machine is all the more attractive to businesses looking for an Itanium box for less than $20,000.

PowerEdge 7250 features include up to four Itanium 2 processors with 6 megabytes of integrated cache within a 4U rack server; up to 32 gigabytes of memory; 8 PCI-X slots; Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 AS; and the Dell OpenManage systems management suite with IPMI support.

Dell's new product is the latest major server to run the Itanium architecture, which competes with AMD's Opteron and IBM's POWER architectures for placement in the data centers of enterprises.

Most analysts view Itanium as a solid platform, but as recently as last year, adoption had been stagnant due to a dearth in applications being developed for the architecture. But with support from such companies as HP, VERITAS Software and now Dell, this won't be for long.

Peter Kastner, vice president of technology research at research firm Aberdeen Group, said the four-way Itanium will emerge as one of the important building blocks of both scale up and scale out commercial applications over the next year.

"A four-way Itanium benchmarks commercial applications like many 8-way Xeon machines," Kastner said. "Fewer processors are more efficient for an operating system to handle, and the Itanium processors just scream on commercial work if you give them plenty of memory and all those other good things."

With well over a hundred thousand chips installed, Itanium is picking up market share at a pretty rapid clip, Kastner said, summing up the importance of Dell's PowerEdge 7250.

"As everyone knows, Dell seldom builds products that its customers said they won't buy," Kastner said. "The fact that Dell is throwing its weight again behind Itanium would be a good proxy for the growing market acceptance of Itanium-based systems. Dell doesn't do small-volume products even if they're high profit. They want to go for the sweet spot in the mainstream."