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HP prepares to launch Xeon-based blade servers

Hewlett-Packard is to release a line of powerful blade servers in the next two months that will be among the first to use Intel's Xeon processors.

HP plans to launch its Proliant BL p-class blade server line with a two-processor Pentium III system that will ship by the end of September.

It will follow up with another two-processor, Xeon-based system and ship a four-processor-based Xeon system early next year, said Sally Stevens, marketing director for HP's density-optimised servers.

The latestblade servers are an extension of the BL e-class blades that Compaq started shipping earlier this year. The BL e-class products used lower-voltage processors and targeted customers looking for rack-dense systems to handle tasks such as Web serving or firewall functions.

The BL p-class servers have sacrificed some of the space-saving qualities of blades in order to make the systems powerful enough to handle high-end software such as application servers or streaming media servers.

Blades mark the next step in rack-dense computing from the existing 1U (1.75 inches) and 2U systems sold by most major server vendors. Blade servers are stripped-down systems using only core components, which means they can be stacked tightly together. They also cut down on the number of cables cascading from a rack by sharing a common backplane.

Blade pioneer RLX Technologies set the density standard, fitting up to 24 blades in a 3U space. With its BL e-class blades, HP can squeeze 20 blades in a 3U space, or 280 servers in a standard 42U rack. The BL p-class systems will be far less dense with eight dual-processor servers fitting into a 6U chassis, Stevens said.

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