• United States

NEC unveils first Itanium blade

Jun 08, 20042 mins

* NEC set to introduce first-ever blade servers based on Itanium

NEC this week plans to announce the first blade servers to use the Itanium processor and InfiniBand clustering technology.

NEC says its Itanium 2 blade server is designed for financial, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and high-performance computing labs.

“NEC is really distancing themselves from the pack with this announcement, at least at a notoriety level,” says Jamie Gruener, senior analyst with the Yankee Group. “The question will be, is there a role for Itanium blades today? I would suggest that in high-performance applications, especially high-performance technical computing, there is.”

The NEC chassis accommodates as many as nine dual-processor blades. Coming in at 10U, the chassis has room for redundant and hot-swappable power supplies. The blades that fit in the chassis are also hot-swappable and operate at 1.6 GHz. Each blade can be configured with one or two 36G-byte disk drives.

The blades come configured with Topspin Communications’ InfiniBand host channel adapter, which allows the servers to be clustered. An optional T360 Topspin InfiniBand gateway is also available that will allow users to connect to external Fibre Channel or SCSI storage. Users that configure their NEC blade servers without internal storage can opt to remote-boot the systems from externally configured storage.

In addition, each blade has up to 24G bytes of RAM and a dual-port Gigabit Ethernet adapter.

The system has a built-in management interface and consolidated keyboard-video-mouse capability, which allows local as well as remote IP management.

So far, NEC is without competition in the Itanium blade server market. HP announced in 2002 that it would have Itanium-based blades in 2003; it hasn’t announced any yet. Egenera promised Itanium-based blades, but still only uses Intel Xeon processors. And IBM is expected to stay with its Power blade platform. In the fall of 2002, Intel and IBM announced they would work together to develop blade servers based on Itanium processors; nothing came of that deal. HP to its credit is expected to announce Itanium-based blades next year, sources say.

The NEC blade system is expected to ship in September, starting at $79,000 for nine dual-processor blades, the chassis, dual power supplies, a single 36G-byte disk and EMS-Pro management software.