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Dell Lays Out Plans for Itanium Server

Dell Computer Corp. became the first vendor to formally unveil a server specifically designed for the 64-bit Itanium processors that Intel Corp. is expected to launch next week.

Dell showed off its PowerEdge 7150 this week. The four-processor server will be available this summer and will run Microsoft Windows and Red Hat Linux.

Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. are sure to introduce their own lines of 64-bit Itanium servers shortly. The chips bring the Intel architecture into performance competition with high-performing RISC chips sold in Unix systems by Sun Microsystems, HP, IBM, Compaq and others.

Unisys Corp.'s ES7000 server, the big 32-processor server that has been shipping for more than a year, was designed for both 32-bit and Itanium processors. Dell's is the first 64-bit-only system formally introduced thus far.

Industry anticipation for the Itanium seems to have diminished recently. As the delivery date slipped, many vendors said they will conduct their major Intel architecture server rollouts in conjunction with Intel's second-generation 64-bit chip, McKinley.

Windows application support for 64-bit systems is also expected to lag for several years.

According to Dell, its Itanium-based servers will support 733 MHz or 800 MHz Intel Itanium processors. Going to 64-bit systems increases the memory capacity exponentially from the 4 GB limit of 32-bit systems, but Dell's initial systems will have a memory limit of 64 GB.

Early candidates for 64-bit Intel architecture systems have high-end requirements, so the systems are engineered to avoid failure. The PowerEdge 7150 will include up to four hot-plug redundant hard drives for up to 144 GB of internal storage, an integrated 10/100 NIC and three hot-plug power supplies with support for a fourth.

Among the 25 testers of prototype systems are the Nasdaq stock exchange, Cornell University and Motorola.

Dell officials also plan to announce a Dell Precision workstation based on Itanium at the end of this month. Dell's early positioning of the workstations is for developing and testing applications being migrated to 64-bit environments.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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