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Unisys beefs up Windows NT server line

The company is gearing up for the release of its Windows NT server computer, a product that was delayed because of fears about how the Year 2000 technology glitch would affect sales.

Unisys is gearing up for the long-anticipated release of its beefed-up Windows NT server computer, a product that was delayed because of fears about how the Year 2000 technology glitch would affect sales.

Unisys plans to introduce the first servers based around its "CMP," or cellular multiprocessing, architecture at the end of October or early November, chief executive Larry Weinbach said.

The CMP architecture will be the foundation for creating some of the largest Intel-based servers to date. Up to 32 processors can be used at once in a CMP server, or eight times as many processors as most top-end Intel servers on the market now. To top that, CMP can run different operating systems, such as Windows NT and Linux, at once.

While announced this year, the systems probably won't go to customers until the first part of next year.

Unisys intentionally delayed release of the first CMP servers in part due to customer distraction over Y2K issues, said Weinbach. The company, which specializes in services and technology for large corporations, had early in 1998 predicted it would ship by the end of last year.

Unisys was capable of delivering the server sooner but didn't want to get caught if Y2K troubles curbed customer spending in the second half, Weinbach said in an interview with CNET

Intel-based servers typically top out at four processors, making the Unisys product a unique and powerful offering for companies looking for powerful performance from Windows NT or running Windows with other operating systems on the same server, said Joe Ferlazzo, analyst with Technology Business Research.

In addition, the ability to run different applications and operating systems on one server is more cost effective and efficient for many companies, analysts said.

Sun Microsystems is one of several manufacturers offering large multiprocessor servers, but they don?t support mixed operating systems. While Sun's Enterprise 10000 server, for example, scales to 64 processors, it runs only Sun's Solaris flavor of Unix on non-Intel chips.

In the Intel space, Data General and Sequent Computer, which was just acquired by IBM, offer large Intel-based servers, but they use a different technology, called NUMA (non-uniform memory access), to tie it together. Analyst are divided over which of the various technologies, if any, will emerge as the basis for future servers.