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Server maker goes for Itanium 2

Server manufacturer RackSaver says it will adopt Intel's Itanium 2 processor for a new line of machines aimed at the high-performance computing market.

Server manufacturer RackSaver said Wednesday that it will adopt Intel's Itanium 2 processor for a new line of machines aimed at the high-performance computing market.

RackSaver, which sells only rack-mounted servers for business, will begin shipping the new RS-4460 server during the fourth quarter. Like other rack-mounted servers, the new machines are designed to handle heavy-duty tasks like e-commerce transactions, but also to be relatively slim so that they fit into a cabinetlike enclosure.

RackSaver already sells servers with Intel's Pentium 4 and Xeon processors as well as with Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon XP and Athlon MP processors. It chose to offer the Itanium 2, announced in July, because of the performance demands of customers in the high-performance computing (HPC) market, CEO David Driggers said.

"HPC customers are looking for heavy-duty FPU performance," Driggers said.

The FPU, or floating-point unit, lets a chip perform mathematical calculations. Early tests conducted by Intel showed that Itanium 2 offers roughly twice the performance of its predecessor, Itanium.

High-performance computing takes place in many different fields, including moviemaking and exploring for new oil and gas reserves. Companies in these industries often use large groups of heavy-duty computers, known as clusters, to tackle big computing jobs.

Clusters tie standard computers, such as the RackSaver servers, together with switches and storage systems, creating supercomputers on the cheap. This practice is becoming more popular: Such setups are inexpensive relative to actual supercomputers, they can be built using off-the-shelf parts, and they can be easily upgraded.

RackSaver will join Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Unisys and others in the market for Itanium 2 servers. The company will offer its RS-4460 with Itanium 2 processors running at both 900MHz and 1GHz and featuring either 1.5MB or 3MB of Level 3 cache, memory that stores data close to the processor's core.

The San Diego-based company will follow the RS-4460 with a dual Itanium 2 rack mount server by the first quarter of 2003.

RackSaver has not yet announced pricing or detailed configurations of the new machines.

Meanwhile, Intel showed off Madison, the successor to the Itanium 2, this week at its Developer Forum in San Jose, Calif.