New servers from vendors such as Data General will use Intel's next-generation Pentium Pro SHV-2 server motherboard that supports up to an eight-processor symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) design. To date, Intel SMP designs have supported only four processors in one box.
The SHV-2 architecture puts the processors directly on the motherboard, as opposed to the SHV-1 design that has the processors on daughtercards. In an SHV-2 design being demonstrated by Data General, four 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors reside on the first motherboard and another four-processor board fits on top of this, communicating by a special high-speed connection.
The systems are expected to ship commercially from Data General in the first quarter of 1997.
The Data General SHV-2 "cluster-in-a-box" systems run Windows NT and use Clariion RAID storage technology. It is not clear yet when Windows NT will be able to support the eight-processor SMP Pentium Pro design. Currently, Windows NT is limited to four-processor SMP support.
Clustering is a technology for "loosely" connecting separate computers, each running their own copy of the operating system. For example, two separate four-processor Pentium Pro servers each running their own copy of NT can be connected to form a cluster. Currently, clustering is used primarily for high availabilty and failover purposes so vendors can offer a degree of fault tolerance in Pentium Pro servers.
SMP, on the other hand, runs one copy of an operating system across multiple processors. This allows, in theory, for NT servers to scale up linearly in performance as more processors are added.
In related news, Dell (DELL), Intel and Xpoint are jointly presenting a demonstration of an enterprise server solution based upon Dell's I2O-ready PowerEdge 6100 server and Xpoint's innovative I2O acceleration software, BusBIOS(TM) for I2O. The demonstration consists of an industry standard benchmark that illustrates the powerful I/O performance edge that BusBIOS for I2O and Intel's i960RP processor brings to enterprise class servers, such as the Dell PowerEdge 6100.
"Dell Server Group partners closely with Intel to translate emerging technology into customer benefits. The I2O technology promises to deliver better I/O performance while stabilizing I/O device software and potentially lowering the cost of peripherals," said Larry Evans, vice president of Dell's Server Group.
"The PowerEdge 6100, available early in the new year, will be I2O-ready at shipment. Other PowerEdge servers will phase in the I2O architecture technology as the year progresses, so Dell customers can gain advantage of the new features as their plans dictate," Evans added.