Fujitsu announces quad-blade server

Fujitsu will let customers link four AMD Opteron blades into a single eight-processor server. Photo: Fujitsu's quad-blade server

Fujitsu will begin selling technology next quarter that lets four dual-processor blade servers be linked into a single machine with eight Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chips.

The new option, available in April or May, will be available with AMD's latest 2.6 GHz dual-core processors, said Richard McCormack, senior vice president of marketing for Fujitsu's Sunnyvale, Calif.-based U.S. subsidiary, Fujitsu Computer Systems. The company announced the product in conjunction with the CeBit trade show in Germany.

The eight-way server is at the high end of the x86 server spectrum--especially given that AMD's dual-core chips have two processing engines apiece. IBM sells a 32-Xeon machine, the x460, and Sun Microsystems plans an eight-processor Opteron server this year, but Hewlett-Packard and Dell top out at four processors.

"We're not expecting everybody to want eight-way servers--it is still a large machine--but in terms of the flexibility of the chassis, it will get us on more short lists and win us more deals," McCormack said.

The systems run Microsoft Windows or Linux from Red Hat and Novell and will appeal to customers with database-centric business software such as SAP's enterprise resource planning packages for inventory and finance, McCormack said. Alternatively, using VMware's virtualization software running multiple operating systems simultaneously, a single machine can replace several smaller machines.

The Fujitsu product extends a technology direction that Fujitsu began in October when it offered the option to link two Primergy BX630 Opteron blades into a four-processor Opteron server. The systems are linked with a small ribbon cable.

Pricing begins at $35,500 for the eight-processor option and $10,000 for the four-processor option, McCormack said. Alternatively, Fujitsu will upgrade dual-processor blades $2,600 linking kit. Joining two blades takes one kit; joining four takes three kits.

Blade servers fit inside a single chassis that provides power and a communications "backplane" that links to networking equipment. IBM leads the market, with HP in second place and Dell in third.

Fujitsu's blade server is 12.25 inches tall and accommodates up to 10 AMD Opteron or Intel Xeon blades, though only Opteron blades can be linked together.

Dell's blade servers are the same size--not coincidentally, since they use Fujitsu's design. "They're working with us on that," McCormack said.

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