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Fujitsu unveils two Itanium 2 servers

The Primequest 480 and 440 servers emerge from a 2-year-old alliance with Intel to promote that company's Itanium 2.

Fujitsu unveiled two new Itanium 2 servers on Tuesday, another step in the Japanese giant's plan to expand its customer base.

The Primequest 480 and 440 servers emerge from a 2-year-old alliance with Intel to promote that company's Itanium 2 processor.

With the new servers, Fujitsu will be able to offer customers four different kinds of servers: mainframes based on Fujitsu's own technology, Unix/RISC servers from a technology relationship with Sun Microsystems, Itanium servers running Windows or Linux and cheaper servers with Intel Xeon servers. Fujitsu sells the mainframe only in Japan, but the rest of the families are available worldwide.

The Primequest servers, which can hold up to 32 processors (the 480) or 16 processors (the 440), are designed to allow Fujitsu to displace older mainframes or Unix servers from Hewlett-Packard or IBM.

Fujitsu earlier said a 128-processor Itanium 2 server will come out at the end of this year, but that plan has been scrapped.

Itanium 2 servers continue to represent only a small sliver of the overall server market and have not met expectations. However, sales are growing.

The company hopes to ship 10,000 of these servers in the next three years, which could bring $2 billion in revenue to Fujitsu, said Chiaki Ito, corporate executive vice president of the Fujitsu conglomerate and a company board member.

Although not one of the "big four" server labels in North America, Fujitsu has made a concerted effort to expand in the last two years, particularly in North America. It has struck up relationships with Red Hat Software, for instance, and co-develops processors with Sun.

Last year, server sales outside of Japan were increasing by 190 percent year over year, although from a small base, Akira Yamanaka, corporate vice president of Fujitsu, said in an interview. Ironically, some of the company's new clients were moving from Sun, he said.

The Primequest server will initially run the "Madison" version of the Itanium 2 chip and a chipset from Fujitsu. Future versions will run the dual-core "Montecito" processor and chipsets from Intel as well.

Some of the features on Primequest include System Mirror, which allows an administrator to let one processor and bank of memory mirror the function of another. In the case of a problem or part failure, the computer won't stall. Another feature, Flexible I/O, lets an administrator redirect input-output resources from different processors online.

Fujitsu came out with an Itanium 2 server in late 2003, but it was largely designed by Intel. The Primequest servers are the first with substantial design input from Fujitsu and its mainframe division.

The server will ship in Japan in June and come to North America in September. Toyota has already installed an early version of the server, Ito said. Right now, Red Hat Linux Enterprise Edition runs on it, but Suse Linux and Windows Server 2003 will be available in September.

Ito also diplomatically sidestepped the issue of whether offering servers running Sun and Intel chips creates a conflict.

"We can serve more customer needs by having both," he said.