Dell's move is the latest sign that the Pentium II is moving up in the computing world. The new server, which will replace a Pentium Pro-based model, closely follows NEC's announcement that it too will use a new version of the Pentium II, which features a new type of cache memory.
To date, the memory chips integrated into the Pentium II have not supported a kind of high-quality memory known as Error Correcting Code. For this reason, the Pentium II has mostly been used in powerful desktop computers but not servers. Many large corporations demand that servers, which form the backbone of company-wide networks, come with ECC memory to ensure data integrity.
The new Pentium II processor includes this capability for the Pentium II's on-board, high-speed memory, known as cache. With this technology, errors that occur during transmission or data storage can be detected and corrected. Standard memory chips do not have this capability.
The new PowerEdge 4200 replaces the PowerEdge 4100 model, which supported up to two Pentium Pro chips. It marks the first Pentium II-based server from Dell that can be used as a file and print server.
Dell confirms that it waited for the Pentium II that supports Error Correcting Code before using the chip in this product line. Dell earlier introduced a Pentium II-based server, but that model is designed for less-critical applications.
The PowerEdge 4200 will be available with 233-, 266-, and 300-MHz versions of the Pentium II chip. The system also features a maximum of six "hot-swappable" 9GB hard drives.
A PowerEdge with a 233-MHz Pentium II, 4GB hard drive, and 64MB of memory will be priced starting at $5,349. The 266-MHz Pentium system comes with a 9GB hard drive and 96MB of memory, starting at $7,687. A dual 266-MHz Pentium II system with three 4GB hard drives and 128MB of memory will start at $11,373.
No pricing on a 300-MHz system was announced. Dell does expect to be shipping a few of the 300-MHz systems by the end of the month. All other models will be available starting Wednesday.