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Unisys Expands Wintel Mainframe Line

In the wake of Intel's launch of its second-generation 64-bit processors, Unisys this week unveiled its plans for its next generation of Wintel mainframes. Unisys is packaging a new line of its big boxes to make it attractive in more cost-conscious markets. The new servers will roll out over the next few months.

Right around the Windows 2000 launch, Unisys began shipping its 32-processor ES7000 servers, which remain the largest servers on the market running Intel processors. The ES7000 was closely associated with Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. The 32-processor support built into Datacenter was engineered expressly to accommodate the Unisys servers.

Since then Unisys has installed nearly 700 systems, says Mark Feverston, Unisys vice president of enterprise server marketing.

Unisys plans to break into larger volume sales by splitting the Cellular Multi-Processing technology that is the foundation for the ES7000 across two new Intel-based server lines: a high-end line called Orion and a lower-end line called Aries, which remains quite high-end for the Wintel market.

"We pointed the original ES7000 … toward customers who need the highest level of scalability and availability. That's the market where you'd find all the traditional proprietary Unix platforms," Feverston says.

Addressing that need will be the Orion series of servers, which will range in price from $140,000 to $700,000 for fully-configured systems.

"As we've been working with our customers implementing applications in that traditional Unix space, we find that we're getting our second, third or fourth order. But we're getting pulled into the rack-and stack space. People want to consolidate," Feverston says.

Unisys will try to address that market with the Aries line that ranges in price from about $75,000 to $300,000.

With both products lines, Unisys expects to compete with IBM's new x440, which is supposed to begin shipping in 16-way configurations in the next few weeks, and with HP ProLiant 8-ways, as well as with lower-end Unix systems.

Both the Aries and Orion lines will ship in 32-bit and 64-bit models.

The Orion 200, which Unisys unveiled back in April as the ES7000 200, is shipping already. That server scales to 32 processors and supports a mixed load of processors ranging from Pentium III Xeons to Xeon MPs to original Itanium processors.

Xeon MP-only models for each line -- the Orion 230 and the Aries 230 -- will ship in August. Itanium 2-only models for each line -- the Orion 130 and the Aries 130 -- are supposed to ship by October, although Unisys doesn't anticipate a rush. "We're not foreseeing a lot of uptake until people can get their hands on .NET," Feverston says, referring to the 64-bit editions of Windows .NET Enterprise Server and Windows .NET Datacenter Server. The two 64-bit operating systems are supposed to ship at the end of 2002 with the rest of the Windows .NET Server family.

The Aries models will be field-upgradeable to Orion series. Both series will support the next generation of Intel processors that follow Xeon MP and Itanium 2.

About the Author

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

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