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Egenera releases new blade servers

The company unveils dual-processor blades that use Intel's newest Xeon processors, a move that follows last week's announcement of a lower-priced Egenera system.

Egenera unveiled blade servers Monday that use Intel's newest Xeon processors, a move that follows last week's release of a lower-priced system from the blade specialist.

Intel's 3.2GHz Xeon chips, which the chipmaker announced Monday, are used in the new dual-processor blades from Egenera. The Marlboro, Mass.-based company also sells dual- and four-processor systems that are based on earlier versions of the Xeon.

Independent server specialists such as RLX Technologies and Network Engines have had a hard time standing up to competition from established computer makers in an economically harsh climate. Egenera, too, faces competition from IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems but thus far has been successful in carving out a niche for itself, particularly among financial services customers.

's BladeFrame systems have several servers mounted horizontally into a refrigerator-size chassis; special hardware and software make it easier to move a task from one blade to another to deal with varying workloads or to bypass faulty hardware.

Egenera's systems, however, have been pricey, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Last week, the company began selling a smaller, less-expensive model called the BladeFrame ES.

The ES chassis, which mounts into a standard 19-inch computer rack, can accommodate as many as six blade servers, Egenera said. The full-size BladeFrame accommodates 24 servers and stands on its own.

BladeFrame ES prices start at $90,000 and range as high as $250,000, said Susan Davis, Egenera's vice president of product marketing and management. The higher-end BladeFrame costs between $150,000 and about $700,000, she said.

The company's servers run Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

Egenera also said last week that it had signed a deal under which Unisys will provide customer support for the Egenera hardware in all areas except Japan, along with software support worldwide. In Japan, CTC Technologies provides hardware support, and Egenera also provides its own hardware support directly worldwide, Davis said.