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NEC server looks ahead to Slot 2

The company unveils a PC server that can accommodate up to six processors and be upgraded to Intel's Slot 2 Pentium II technology.

Today, NEC unveiled a PC server that can accommodate up to six processors and be upgraded to Intel's Slot 2 Pentium II when the forthcoming technology is released.

The HX6100 will be the first system to support six processors that can also be upgraded to the Slot 2 Pentium II chip, according to NEC. Currently, standard server designs based on the Intel chip architecture can be scaled to four processors at most, though special designs from companies like Corollary take this to eight. Pentium II-based servers top out at two processors.

Slot 2 refers to the packaging and the interface that will be part and parcel of Pentium II chips for workstations and servers. Machines with Slot 2 chips will be capable of using up to eight processors at once, for added computing power.

Slot 2 will succeed Slot 1, the sleek, black casing that is synonymous with the look and feel of the Pentium--it's the package that's featured in most of Intel's TV ads.

"The IS managers of the world don't always trust the latest technology and only use the stuff that works. Here we have a Pentium Pro they do trust, and they can buy with assurance that that they can upgrade to newer technology," said Marty Strakhovsky, product marketing manager with NEC.

The servers will be able to use up to four Pentium II processors, Strakhovsky said. A special circuit board which holds the Pentium Pro processors is simply removed from the system, and a new board with Pentium II processors is inserted.

As previously reported, the $22,565 HX6100 comes with two 200-MHz Pentium Pro chips, 128MB of memory, and a 4GB hard drive. Designed for "mission-critical" applications such as database management or e-commerce, the system can add four more chips to increase performance.

The lower-end HX4100 is priced at $7,872. The midrange enterprise application server comes configured with a single 200-MHz Pentium Pro and features 128MB of memory and a 4GB hard drive. The HX4100 is also upgradeable to the Slot 2 technology.

Intel has essentially terminated its Pentium Pro architecture in anticipation of the newer, faster Slot 2 Pentium II technology. By the second half of this year, Intel expects to release the proprietary design, which many server manufacturers are already preparing to feature in their new systems.