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Skinny VA Linux servers cheaper than predecessors

VA Linux Systems introduces two new slim servers, models that compete against new designs from Sun, Dell and others.

VA Linux Systems has introduced two new slim servers, which will compete against new models from Sun Microsystems, Dell Computer and others.

The new models replace earlier rack-mountable machines 1.75 inches, or "1U," thick, a dimension in high demand from companies that stack such servers up by the dozen for handling tasks such as Web page requests from Internet surfers. The new systems, which come with either Pentium or lower-end Celeron chips, are considerably cheaper.

"What we wanted to do was really have a value-priced 1U server," said senior product manager Kim Chan. "This was our next generation to see how low we could go."

Prices for the one-processor 1120 machine start at less than $1,200. The higher-end 1220, with two Pentium III CPUs and 512MB of memory, costs about $4,000.

Last March, VA began selling 1U, two-processor servers built by Network Engines. Such arrangements typically mean lower profit margins for the company selling the system.

Sales of that two-processor product began at the same time VA acquired TruSolutions, a company with 60 employees and its own slim server designs, for $189 million. The TruSolutions acquisition let VA sell a 1U, one-processor system.

Since those days, the market for skinny servers has gotten much bigger. Dell, Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard and IBM all have released 1U, two-processor designs, and Sun last week introduced a new sub-$1,000 one-processor design.

The older 1U VA servers will be phased out in coming months, Chan said.