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Corollary scales the multichip theory

As enterprises look for faster-better servers, Corollary's new Profusion is bumping the limit for Intel's Pentium Pro server chips from four to a high-powered eight.

A leading multiprocessor-server technology company has upped the ante for multiprocessor Pentium Pro servers with a new architecture that hosts eight of Intel's high-speed microprocessors, twice as many as the typical configuration.

Corollary has introduced an architecture it calls Profusion to increase the number of Pentium Pro chips in a server from the standard two or four to eight, an increase expected to deliver a proportionate boost in performance.

"While [Intel's] Pentium Pro [server architecture] delivers good built-in multiprocessing performance, it is firmly limited to four processors," said George White, president of Corollary.

Currently, major vendors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard offer four-chip Pentium Pro servers based on Intel designs. PC vendors will now be able to add eight-chip servers to their lineups by adopting the Profusion technology, something that will indicate enterprises are looking for more robust hardware to improve network performance. Multiprocessing servers are targeted to customers whose needs include intensive transaction processing, departmental, data warehouse, and large printer-server applications.

The technology dedicates a separate Pentium Pro bus for each four-processor configuration and sets aside a third Pentium Pro bus exclusively for I/O traffic. Each of the buses operates independently, with cache coherency maintained by a proprietary protocol, Corollary says.

No PC vendor has yet announced it will use the Corollary chip set. But Corollary says it has seen a growing demand for servers that can scale up to this level of performance and still run off-the-shelf operating systems, like UnixWare and Windows NT. The Profusion architecture is promised, however, to take full advantage of these shrink-wrapped symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) operating systems because it meets the Intel MPS 1.4 standard, a specification for running SMP operating systems.

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