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NEC to release larger Pentium II servers

NEC Computer will unveil a new Pentium II server on Monday, targeted at the more price-sensitive segment of the server market.

NEC Computer will unveil a new Pentium II server on Monday that's targeted at the more price-sensitive segment of the server computer market.

The server offers more data storage capacity than NEC's LE2200 Pentium II servers.

The MT2200 comes with one or two Pentium II processors and can use up to 512MB of memory and six hard drives. Although similar to the LE2200, NEC's first Pentium II server, the new server comes in a larger chassis that can accommodate more memory and hard drives, said Bill Hillerich, product line manager at NEC. Drives and other parts are hot-swapable.

Expansion is made possible because the new server comes in the same chassis used for NEC's Express 5800 server, a four-way Pentium Pro server sold for departmental use.

"This can start selling into the bottom half of the departmental server market," Hillerich said.

Pricing for a base-level configuration, which would include one 233-MHz Pentium II and 64MB of memory, starts at around $5,000. The server will be manufactured under the NEC Now program, under which computers are built pursuant to customer orders.

Server vendors have been caught in development limbo since the release of the Pentium II. Most vendors can only use a maximum of two Pentium II processors in a single machine. By contrast, computer makers can string up to four Pentium Pro processors together. More processors lead to more computer power.

Unfortunately, the Pentium Pro is on its last legs. As a result, the most powerful servers have had to use the previous generation of chips while the most recent chips have been stuck in smaller boxes.

The contradiction will start working itself out in 1998, said sources, when Intel comes out with standard server configurations that can use greater numbers of Pentium II chips. "Commoditization" of servers will also drive more vendors into the market and drop prices, added Hillerich.

NEC will also start to introduce eight- and sixteen-way servers that will be developed through a recently announced development alliance with Microsoft, he said. These servers will be marketed in Japan and the U.S.

In any event, current Pentium II capabilities are good enough for most users. "Probably 90 percent of the market is in the one- and two-way servers," he said.