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HP releases low-power blade

The new low-end server uses Intel's Pentium M processor, originally designed for laptop computers. Also, the company upgrades its other blade models.

Hewlett-Packard has released a new low-end blade server using Intel's Pentium M processor originally designed for laptop computers, the company said Wednesday, amid an upgrade of its other blade models.

The Pentium M consumes less electricity and therefore throws off less waste heat than do conventional Pentium processors, making it easier to jam blade servers close together in a single chassis without causing overheating. But the main attraction of the new processor for the BL10e blade is that it includes twice as much high-speed cache memory as the last chip used, a low-voltage Pentium III, HP said in April.

Blade servers are typically thin systems that slide into a larger chassis that provides shared resources such as power supplies and external network connections. One advantage of blades is that newer models can fit into unfilled slots in chassis purchased for older models.

The top four server makers--IBM, Sun Microsystems, HP and Dell--all are moving to embrace blades, though Dell believes the market won't take off for another year or so. IBM and Intel are trying to establish IBM's design as a de facto standard that would allow one company's blades to fit into another's chassis.

Unlike its competitors, HP also sells a four-processor blade, though the BL40p system is much larger than typical blades: Only two can fit side-by-side in a 10.5-inch-tall chassis. HP upgraded the BL40p to use newer Xeon MP processors, either the 2.8GHz chip with 2MB of cache or the 2.0GHz chip with 1MB of cache.

In addition, HP upgraded its dual-processor BL20p with the 3.06GHz Xeon DP with 1MB of cache. That system fits into the same chassis as the BL40p.

HP announced that a new networking switch also would fit into the chassis used by the BL20p and BL40p. The BL BgE2 switch is a 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch module designed by Nortel Networks.

The company has shipped more than 30,000 blades since their introduction in January 2002, HP said.