The first eight-way Intel-based server to run off-the-shelf Windows NT touched down in the country last week.
The Northbridge NX801 is made by Californian Sun clone maker Axil, which is owned by Korean electrical components giant Hyundai. With Hyundai’s manufacturing brawn behind it, Axil has decided to go after the Intel-based server business.
Axil’s Sparc-based servers are already popular among local ISPs but chasing the burgeoning NT market appears to be the quickest way for Axil to realise its goal of becoming a $US10 billion company by 2006.
Doug Hunt, of Axil distributor Business Computers (BCL), says the North-bridge NX801 will be pitted against massively parallel processor systems from NCR, Data General and Sequent.
“Forget about the likes of Compaq, Axil is going after the very high end. The difference between this machine and those from NCR, Data General and Sequent is that the Northbridge runs Windows NT unaltered. For the others you need to have the operating system modified.”
The Northbridge NX801 is the first in a family of machines promised by the company, with a clustered solution slated for August, and a 16-way CPU featuring the 300+MHz Deschutes chip (an upcoming smaller, faster version of the Pentium II), proposed for January 98.
Hunt says the availability of high-end Intel systems running Windows NT unchanged, will push acceptance of the operating system as a true database and application server. When asked whether New Zealand is ready for a server with this much grunt, he says customers are demanding such systems already.
“We know of people who have wanted to go to NT-based applications such as SAP but wanted more performance rather than a less powerful machine. Now that performance is here.”
In timely fashion the Axil Northbridge appeared in New Zealand at the same time as Microsoft launched ‘Scalability Day’ in the US, a day dedicated to convincing everyone of the scalability of NT.
According to Hunt, Sun has said it will also port its Unix operating system Solaris to run on the Northbridge NX801.
Axil is claiming a major technological feat with the Northbridge in that it manages to squeeze 70% performance out of the second four processors. If vendors start adding more than four CPUs to a machine, the added processing power for each CPU starts to drop off until with six CPUs users can expect less than a 50% increase. However, Axil says it has overcome performance degradation using “memory cross bar” technology which gives all CPUs access to the same memory.
The Northbridge NX801 has high availability features including hot-swappable and redundant power supplies, fans and disk drives.
Hunt says the machines will ship in New Zealand in about a month. BCL is currently talking to several resellers, targeting those capable of offering 24 hour, seven day support.
An entry-level Northbridge NX801 with two 200Mhz Pentium Pro chips, 128Mb SDRAM, 8Gb disk storage, 12XSCSI CD-ROM, 10/100 Ethernet PCI card and NT Server V4.0 bundled comes at an estimated retail price of $58,073 ex GST. CPUs can be upgraded two at a time at a cost of $19,510 ex GST.