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Unisys Prepares for 128-Processor Windows Future

Unisys Corp. is building its next-generation Wintel mainframe to support up to 128 processors and 2 terabytes of RAM.

Unisys is currently the only vendor selling and supporting Windows servers with more than eight processors. The Blue Bell, Pa.-based company's Cellular Multi-Processing architecture currently supports up to 32 processors and 32 GB of RAM in a single server. Unisys markets the server as the ES7000.

Unisys and Microsoft Corp. worked closely on the upper scalability limits of Windows 2000 Datacenter Server before that operating system's support for 32 processors was announced in 1999.

Microsoft and Unisys are again conferring on the scalability limitations to be set in Windows .NET Datacenter Server, but Microsoft has not yet publicly committed to an upper limit for that operating system's SMP support.

Unisys has decided to support 32-bit Foster processors from Intel and the generation of processors after Foster in the current CMP systems, says Pete Samson, vice president and general manager of Unisys' technology sales development. Foster was the code name for the processors Intel recently released under the Xeon brand. Intel has not yet released its SMP version of that chip.

One unique aspect of the Unisys CMP architecture is that it supports both 32-bit and 64-bit processors.

While the current ES7000 systems support 64-bit Intel Itanium processors, Unisys will reserve support for the McKinley processor, Intel's second-generation 64-bit processor, for the next-generation of CMP servers, Samson says.

The first of the next-generation CMP servers will probably be available in the first half of 2002 when McKinley becomes available, Samson says. That server will likely first ship with support for 16-processor SMP, Samson says.

"From the first half of 2002 through 2003 it will be evolutionary," Samson says. "It will start as two 16-[processor partitions] in a box. Then a full 32-processor system. Then 64-processor and beyond over the next 18 months."

Unisys will continue to support both 32-bit and 64-bit processors in the second-generation CMP systems, Samson says.

About the Author

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

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