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IBM and Intel to work together on blade servers

Technology heavyweights IBM and Intel are teaming up to develop high-density blade servers that will use Intel processors and be able to run corporate applications such as e-mail, firewalls and e-commerce systems.

The two companies are also co-operating on the development of blade server chassis and related networking and systems management technology. Tim Dougherty, director of blade server strategy for IBM's server group, said the company plans within a month to introduce new systems developed through the partnership.

Blade servers are modular computers housed on a tightly packed board that's designed to squeeze more processing power into a standard rack with far less cabling than older rack-mounted systems require. IDC predicted that worldwide blade server sales will total only about $120m this year but will grow to $3.7bn in 2006.

The move by IBM and Intel follows Hewlett-Packard's introduction last month of dual-processor blade devices aimed at applications such as Web hosting and streaming media. HP said it would add a four-CPU model early next year, and Dell Computer disclosed that it planned to field a line of modular blade servers next year.

IBM already offers low-end blade servers. Now it plans to use Intel's Xeon server chips to move into more complex middle-tier applications, said Dougherty, citing the Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino e-mail systems, as well as front-end processing for enterprise resource planning systems.

Phil Brace, director of marketing at Intel's enterprise platforms group, said the two companies are working on devices based on the Xeon and Xeon MP processors. Systems will also be built around the 64-bit Itanium 2 chip Intel released in July.

Both IBM and Intel will be able to offer all the jointly developed products to their respective customer bases. IBM said it would market a full portfolio of blade server technologies to corporate users. Later this year, Intel plans to make Xeon-based blade servers available to hardware vendors who do not wish to develop their own systems.

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