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Micron releases high-end servers

Micron announces new Netframe Pentium Pro servers that use Intel's newest Pentium Pro chip, while also readying "clustered" servers for Comdex.

Micron (MUEI) has announced two new Pentium Pro-based servers as the company continues to reap benefits from its acquisition of NetFrame.

Micron will also show at Comdex in November its first clustered systems, based on Microsoft's "Wolfpack" technology, according to company officials. Clustering is used for fault tolerance, typically at large corporations.

Micron, a direct marketer best known for high-end desktops and notebooks, purchased NetFrame this past summer to expand its line of computer products for larger corporate customers.

Micron's new NetFrame 9008XP and 9016XP appeal to corporations needing to run large database and business operations applications. Both offer up to four of Intel's new 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors with 1MB of secondary "cache" memory. Cache memory is used to ensure a continuous stream of data is fed to the processors, for better performance.

Previous versions of the Pentium Pro processor had 512KB of cache memory, or half what the new processors have. Generally, the more cache there is, the better the performance.

The servers run Microsoft's Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise Edition operating system. The Enterprise Edition has been optimized to run faster on multiple processor systems, according to Hitesh Shah, manager of product marketing at Micron's Netframe division.

Shah also said that that the new Pentium Pro offers better performance when scaling up from, for instance, two to four processors.

Although on its way out, the Pentium Pro still reigns supreme in server computers. Its successor, the Pentium II, is increasingly being offered in servers, but only two processors can be used in a single system, and each processor currently can only have up to 512KB of secondary cache.

The NetFrame servers also offer three separate PCI busses to increase the performance of such operations as retrieving information from disk drives and sending information to other desktop computers on the network. Most servers only have one PCI bus.

Other features Micron offers in the 9000 series servers include RAID technology for information storage and the ability to change out peripherals without restarting the server. Eight hot-swappable slots allow users to have up to 854GB of storage in the 9008XP, while the 9016 has 16 hot-swappable slots for up to 1.9 terabytes of storage.

Pricing for a fully configured 9008XP is $15,325. This includes 128MB of memory and a 8.7GB hard drive. The 9016XP, which offers a few more hot-swap features and a design for rack mounting, will be priced at $19,466.

Micron is also preparing to demonstrate its first clustered servers based on "Microsoft Cluster Server" technology, formerly referred to as Wolfpack.

In clustering, though both servers are actively processing data, if one fails the other can kick in and take over. This offers both better performance and a high degree of fault tolerance, according to Micron's Shah.