RealTime IT News

Intel Airs Blade Server Chips

Intel Corp. Tuesday unveiled what it claimed to be the industry's first dual processors for dense, low-power blade servers, which may yield as much as 63 percent greater performance than single processor brethren.

The Santa Clara, Calif. chipmaker said the chips are Low Voltage Intel Pentium III processors that operate at 800 MHz, with memory support of up to four gigabytes. Each processor inside of the new PIIIs contains 512 KB of level 2 cache memory for speedy data recall.

A blade server is a server on a card. Rather than installing servers one at a time into a rack cabinet, network administrators can install a server card into a chassis that has multiple slots to hold these server cards. Often used by Internet service providers (ISPs) for Web hosting, "Ultra-dense" blade servers contain the highest number of processors possible based on the lowest size and thermal requirements.

"Today's announcement for dual-processing in 'ultra-dense' servers increases the capabilities for this emerging market segment," said Richard Dracott, director of Intel's Enterprise Platforms Group. "These systems offer significant real estate, performance and power benefits versus single processor systems."

Gartner corroborates Dracott's the theory of blade servers as an emerging market. In February, the research firm released a number of notes addressing the many facets of the nascent blade server industry. Generally, Gartner said worldwide blade server shipments to grow from 84,810 units in 2002 to more than 1 million by 2006.

However, momentum in this niche may be halted by a lack of standards, said Jeffrey Hewitt, principal analyst covering servers for Gartner Dataquest's Computing Platform Worldwide group.

"A lack of standards will be a primary market inhibitor as many end users will be reluctant to install a blade server that appears to be proprietary," Hewitt said. "This restriction on blade server demand will encourage the development of a standard designed specifically for blade servers to which the worldwide server vendors adhere. The acceptance of such a standard should help reduce end-user inhibition to install blade servers."

Hewitt further said server vendors need to step up and support the sector to keep from being frozen out of the market.

"For vendors to gain any competitive advantage and enjoy market share from this cycle disruption, the blade product offering must include demonstrable advantages for customers over rack-optimized servers," said Hewitt. "These include significant space advantages, proven ease of installation and removal and management software that facilitates the installation of blades into an enterprise environment."

Intel expects to ship its new blade server PIIIs in systems from Dell , Fujitsu-Siemens and other major OEMs later this year.