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Sequent servers add new Pentium

The Beaverton, Oregon-based manufacturer will put the upgraded Pentium Pro in its powerful Numa-Q 2000 servers, which can scale up to 32 processors.

Sequent (SQNT) became the latest vendor to announce it will ship servers based on the upgraded Pentium Pro server, which features 1MB of L2 cache memory.

The Beaverton, Oregon-based server maker will put the chip in its powerful 4-, 8-, 16-, and 32-processor Numa-Q 2000 servers. The upgraded servers should start to come out in September.

Intel earlier this month released a new and probably final version of the Pentium Pro. The upgrade runs at the same clock speed, 200 MHz, as older Pentium Pro chips, but has double the amount of memory on the L2 cache. Older versions of the Pentium Pro had only 512KB of L2 cache memory. Cache memory keeps the processor fed with data. By increasing the cache size, the processor is never "starved" for data and can accomplish more in a shorter period of time. In the end, overall server performance goes up. The new Pentium Pro chip costs $2,675.

The Numa-Q server line is distinguished by scalability, or the ability to simply add more processors to get increased performance. The basic Numa-Q 2000 comes with 4 Pentium Pro processors, but can be upgraded to work with 8, 16, or 32 processors at once. The company has in fact been demonstrating 252 processors working together in a single, experimental server. Standard Pentium Pro servers can only handle four processors at once.

Of course, all the fancy engineering makes the servers pricey. A basic four-processor Numa-Q 200 starts at $242,000. An eight-way system starts at $675,000. The pricing also includes hefty hardware configurations including 0.5GB of memory and 50GB hard-disk-drive subsystems on the four-processor model and 65GB of storage on the eight-processor model.

Currently, the entire line runs on Sequent's own Unix operating system, although NT support is coming, said sources close to the company.

Sequent claims that memory upgrade improves performance in its servers with the older Pentium Pro chips by 10 to 25 percent, a figure in line, if not slightly higher, than projections from other vendors.

Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and NEC Computer Systems have also released servers with the new chip. These companies all use the standard four-way configuration.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.