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Intergraph ready to take on PC server giants

Intergraph Computer Systems forms a new division centered on powerful Pentium Pro-based server. computers running the Windows NT operating system, a sure sign that the company is serious about taking on PC server giants.

Intergraph Computer Systems has formed a new division centered on powerful Pentium Pro-based server computers running the Windows NT operating system, a sure sign that the company is serious about taking on PC server giants such as Compaq and Hewlett-Packard.

Intergraph is known for its high-end graphics workstations and, more recently, for its line of Pentium Pro processor-based Windows NT workstations. Intergraph will parlay its strong standing in the NT workstation market into a division which will produce price-competitive servers, said Lee Hanson, who will head the new division, in a prepared statement.

Intergraph (INGR) says the new division will provide complete enterprise solutions with its InterServe line. New products will be built around Intel's 200-MHz Pentium Pro processor, the most powerful chip that Intel currently offers.

Until now, Intergraph was only "incidentally in the business of providing servers," said a company spokesman. But now servers will be a product line in and of themselves which are expected to grow into a considerable source of revenue for the company, he added.

"They have a very strong product from a technology point of view," said Jerry Sheridan, principal analyst at Dataquest, a San Jose, California-based market research firm. Intergraph also has the advantage of having made a transition from Unix-based products to WindowsNT already as well as having a strong technical support staff, Sheridan added.

But the established PC server players have been building formidable marketing and channel infrastructures.

"Before they start competing in big way against the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq, they need to establish and develop a channel of distribution" outside their core 3D and graphics workstation markets, Sheridan added.

Also, partnerships with companies like Oracle, SAP, and other database vendors need to be formed and publicized widely, Sheridan believes.

Intergraph officials said their servers are targeted at large-scale database applications, "three-tier" networking environments that deliver Windows NT applications to Unix workstations and X Windows terminals, and Intranets with large numbers of users.

To underscore the company's move into the enterprise server market, Intergraph on Tuesday introduced the InterServe 660 and 650 servers. The 660 comes with four 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors, each with 512KB of level-2 cache, 256MB of RAM, and three 9GB drives for $64,800. The 650, with two processors, 128MB of RAM, and three 4GB drives is priced at $50,200.

The 650/660 servers will feature a motherboard designed and manufactured by Intergraph, an unusual move for the company. Most major manufacturers are using Intel-produced motherboards to save development costs. Both boards can be expanded up to 4GB of memory.

Other standard features include 12 PCI and 3 ISA expansion slots, eight hot swappable bays, an Ultra SCSI RAID controller, and up to 1TB of storage available.

Windows NT 4.0 will be available on the servers in October, the company said.