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Micron to unveil NetFrame servers

The direct marketer's new products will probably appeal to corporations needing to run large database and business operations applications.

    Micron (MUEI) is set to announce two new Pentium Pro-based servers next Monday, November 3, as the company continues to reap benefits from its acquisition of NetFrame.

    Micron, a direct marketer best known for high-end desktops and notebooks, purchased NetFrame this past summer to expand its line of computer products for larger corporate customers.

    Micron's new NetFrame 9008XP and 9016XP will probably appeal to corporations needing to run large database and business operations applications. Both offer up to four 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors with 1MB of secondary "cache" memory. Cache memory is used to ensure a continuous stream of data is fed to the processors, for better performance.

    Although on its way out, the Pentium Pro still reigns supreme in server computers. Its successor, the Pentium II, is increasingly being offered in servers, but only two processors can be used in a single system, and each processor currently can only have up to 512KB of secondary cache.

    The NetFrame servers will also offer three separate PCI busses to increase the performance of such operations as retrieving information from disk drives and sending information to other desktop computers on the network. Most servers only have one PCI bus, meaning peripherals are forced to try to send information to the processor

    Other features Micron will offer in the 9000 series servers include RAID technology for information storage and the ability to change out peripherals without restarting the server. Eight hot-swappable slots allow users to have up to 854GB of storage in the 9008XP, while the 9016 has 16 hot-swappable slots for up to 1.9 terabytes of storage.

    By next year, new systems from PC vendors are expected to offer more Pentium II processors, because Intel is currently working to advance various design elements for the newer processor instead of the Pentium Pro. The design now used in Pentium II-based PCs incorporates the aging 66-MHz system bus, but Intel will increase the bus speed on these systems to 100 MHz in 1998.

    This is important for improving a computer's overall system speed, since the processor uses the system bus to talk to other components in a PC. Significant performance bottlenecks could occur when next year's 400-MHz Pentium II processors slow down to talk to a 66-MHz bus.