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Fujitsu Intros 8-Socket Blade Servers

Fujitsu Computer Systems today unveiled an 8-socket blade server, a new machine the company hopes will help it gain market share versus top rivals IBM and HP in the modular computing space.

The Primergy BX630 blade server is fueled by dual-core AMD Opteron processors, allowing customers to scale from two to eight processors in one blade chassis. Blades are thin servers that slide in and out of a chassis.

Opteron contains a critical feature in helping the BX630 scale to eight sockets: AMD's HyperTransport interconnect.

This interconnect makes it possible to link two BX630 two-socket blades into a single four-socket blade. IT administrators can then link two of these four-socket blades into a single BX630 eight-socket blade. Because each socket has two processors, the server essentially becomes a 16-core machine.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company said in a statement the BX630 will be powerful enough to handle everything from a business' high-end applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, to its database software.

Letting customers mix and match hardware and architectures without incurring greater costs is a big boon these days. Choice is a very powerful thing in enterprise computing, where costs can run high.

Accordingly, the Opteron-based BX630 blades can run in the current Primergy BX600 chassis and be mixed with Intel Xeon-based Primergy BX620 S2 blade servers and Primergy BX630 two-socket blade servers.

The BX630 supports all of the major server operating systems, including Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition, Red Hat Linux EL4 x86/AMD64, Novell SUSE Linux ES-9 x86/AMD64 and VMware ESX Server 2.5.x.

The BX630 eight-socket server will be available in the second quarter, starting below $2,250 for a two-socket configuration. An eight-socket BX630 will run companies $36,000.

Despite the power and flexibility of the BX630, Fujitsu is facing an uphill battle to sell blade servers in the U.S. and abroad. In the most recent IDC server numbers, IBM posted a 42.7 percent market share, while HP maintained the No. 2 position with 35.1 percent share.

Moreover, neither company is resting on their laurels.

IBM unveiled its high-performance blade last month, while HP is expected to upgrade its Opteron-based ProLiant blade portfolio tomorrow.

However, IBM and HP's leadership and aggression in the market may not matter.

IDC also said the blade market grew 49.3 percent year over year and climbed 56.9 percent from 2004 to 2005.

With blade server sales skyrocketing each passing year, an even better year is likely to be on tap for 2006.