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Micron beefs up server arsenal

NetFrame unveils a multiprocessor server that should add significantly to Micron's computing arsenal.

NetFrame Systems today announced a multiprocessor server that should add significantly to the arsenal of Micron, up to now a very small player in the server market.

NetFrame, recently acquired by Micron Electronics, will be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary. The agreement filled a previous gap in Micron's computer line in the server market.

The NetFrame ClusterSystem 9008 uses up to four Intel Pentium Pro processors and features advanced PCI bus technology. The PCI bus is a high-speed data path used to transfer data inside a PC.

The individually "Hot Pluggable" PCI slots in the 9008 allow computer system administrators to replace failing PCI circuit boards, referred to as "cards," without bringing down the rest of the system. Servers come with a host of add-on cards that plug into PCI slots, including Ethernet network cards and hard disk drive interface cards.

In addition to the Hot Pluggable PCI technology, the NetFrame system features a "triple-peer" PCI bus which allows the system to shift load away from failing Ethernet cards, allowing the server to continue to operate during a component failure. In addition, it allows for nearly twice the data throughput on the system bus as on traditional twin-PCI bus designs.

While some newer server designs come with twin PCI buses to improve performance, NetFrame's system adds yet a third bus.

The 9008's MultiSpan software manages load shifting away from failed Ethernet cards, while a separate internal network monitors and maintains system health. For example, in the event that a cooling fan fails, the system not only notifies the administrator but increases the speed of the remaining fans to maintain proper cooling.

In the event of a system failure, the 9008 includes a "flight recorder" containing nonvolatile memory and a separate power source. The recorder tracks system state before failure and can also be used to gain access to the internal hardware monitor network when the server is down.

The basic ClusterSystem 9008, with one CPU, costs $9,995. A typical system with two processors, a 6-8GB hard disk, 256MB memory, and two power supplies runs $29,965.