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Compaq, Dell beef up servers

The new systems use up to four 400-MHz Intel Pentium II Xeon processors, which until recently were in short supply.

Compaq and Dell pumped up their server lineups yesterday with systems that use up to four 400-MHz Intel Pentium II Xeon processors, which until recently were in short supply.

PC vendors hoping to move further into the high-end and high margin "enterprise" computing market with Intel's newest chips have suffered through various holdups on the Xeon for four-processor servers, including a flaw with the chips working in a four-way configuration.

Intel, however, recently announced that it changed the circuitry on the chip, which eliminated the problem.

Tim Golden, director of enterprise server marketing at Compaq, acknowledged that the Xeons had been in short supply for four-way servers, but that supplies were now increasing.

With chip issues apparently behind it now, Compaq introduced a new ProLiant 6500 that is available with up to four Xeon processors and can be linked with up to five other 6500s for corporations running Oracle Parallel Server-based applications. Meanwhile, Dell introduced a PowerEdge 6530 that offers up to four Xeon processors in a space-saving design.

A ProLiant 6500 system with a single 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon and 256MB of memory is priced starting at $12,784. A database center with six servers running Oracle Parallel server is priced starting at around $120,000, the company said.

Compaq said the new servers are designed to take up less space in a rack mounted version than previous models. The systems also include separate buttons mounted on the server which turn off individual expansion slots, enabling easier service of the system.

Compaq said that its server efforts will continue next year with eight-way Xeon servers in the first quarter, as well as Alpha-based servers running Windows NT, Golden said. Compaq released Alpha-based servers in October, but these were designed to run Digital's Unix and minicomputer operating systems.

Like Compaq, Dell's new PowerEdge 6350 servers released today are focused on rack-mount density. The PowerEdge 6350 server is priced starting at $7,694 for a system with a single 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon chip and 128MB of memory.

"It's the smallest and most powerful Intel server in the marketplace," claimed Subo Guha, director of product marketing for Dell. The PowerEdge released today measures about 7 inches high, which is 60 percent smaller than the PowerEdge 6300 design that the 6350 is based on.

The smaller form factor means that more servers can be placed in a single rack, which is an increasingly important consideration for customers such as Internet service providers who have limited real estate. Also, customers now are buying more servers and using them for single functions, rather than buying a few multi-function servers.

The shrink in chassis size was accomplished by moving the power supplies inside the chassis and reducing the amount of disk storage. The server only contains three drive bays for storage of up to 27GB of data, rather than the seven bays found on other four-way Dell servers.

Users will likely use these servers with an independent storage unit, Dell said. The new server can be connected to up to three Dell PowerVault storage systems for a total external storage capacity of six terabytes (6,000 gigabytes) of data.

Today, Compaq also introduced the ProLiant 3000 and ProLiant servers. The 300-series servers can be ordered with up to two 450-MHz Pentium II processors and up to 4GB of memory. The system is priced starting at $4,431 for a single 400-MHz Pentium II processor and hot-swappable drives and power supplies.

The ProLiant 800 entry level server is priced starting at $2,283 for a single 400-MHz Pentium II processor and supports up to 1GB of memory.

In other news, Dell has responded to the success of Hewlett-Packard's entry-level workstation PCs with a new system called the Precision WorkStation 210. The system is priced starting at $1,997.

In addition, Dell cut prices on the Precision 610 by up to 16 percent and up to 14 percent on the Precision 410 for customers in the United States.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network, publisher of News.com.