Wintel server vendors to debut Pentium Pro with 1Mb cache

Server vendors including Compaq, NEC, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard are to ramp up their assaults on RISC-based competitors this week, with the unveiling of high-end servers based on Intel's Pentium Pro processor with 1M byte of Level 2 cache.

Server vendors including Compaq, NEC, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard are to ramp up their assaults on RISC-based competitors this week with the unveiling of high-end servers based on Intel's Pentium Pro processor with 1M byte of Level 2 cache.

Kicking off the blitz is Compaq, which will offer the eight-way processor-ready ProLiant 6500 rack and 7000 tower. Currently, Intel's Pentium Pro chips scale only four ways. Compaq is working with "industry-leading partners" to develop an eight-way processor chip set, says John T. Rose, senior vice president and group general manager for Compaq's Enterprise Computing Group, in Houston. The ProLiants will accommodate eight chips once the chip set is available.

The ProLiant models will also include a hot-pluggable PCI bus to let IT managers service the systems - for example swapping in network cards - without bringing down the system, officials said. Intel announced late this week that it will license Compaq's hot-pluggable technology.

Not all IT managers see hot-pluggable PCI as the key feature that will make these servers highly available.

"Hot-pluggable PCI sounds nice, but the only advantage is if you have two cards of any given type already in the box," says Brian Jaffe, director of network and client services at Bantam Doubleday Dell, in New York, and a member of InfoWorld's Corporate Advisory Board.

The Compaq systems will cost between US$10,000 and $14,000 and will use current 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors with 512Kb of Level 2 cache. The systems will include the Pentium Pro with 1Mb of Level 2 cache when the new chip becomes available in volume - in about 30 to 45 days.

Dell will also include the Pentium Pro with 1Mbof cache in its current PowerEdge 6100 system. A single-processor system with 1M byte of Level 2 cache, 64Mb of RAM, and a 4Gb Ultra-Wide SCSI hard drive will be priced at $10,771, said Lary Evans, vice president and general manager of Dell's server group.

A Dell four-way system with 1Mb of Level 2 cache, 512Mb of RAM, and three 9Gb hard drives will sell for $33,280, Evans says.

NEC will announce the Express 5800HX, which is based on its existing ProServa HX model; it will use the Pentium Pro with 1M byte of Level 2 cache. The system will be available on a build-to-order basis, with the higher level of cache, in 30 to 45 days, said an industry source familiar with the product.

An entry-level configuration of the NEC server will have two 200MHz Pentium Pro processors with 512Kb of cache, 128Mb of error-correcting-code RAM, and a 12X CD-ROM, at a price of $14,469; 512Mb of RAM will cost $21,099. The server will include 12 hot-pluggable disk-drive bays.

HP also plans to offer the Pentium Pro chip in its NetServer LX and LXr servers, source say.

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