First servers with Xeon chips wear Dell label

Dell Computer Corp. last week became the first enterprise server maker to ship systems
based on the new Pentium II Xeon chip and 450NX chip set from Intel Corp.


Chairman Michael Dell vowed to lower prices in the high-end server market through
efficiencies that Dell’s build-to-order business model has spread to other parts of
the computer industry.


Dell will price four-processor PowerEdge 6300 Xeon servers from about $27,000, a new
low for the enterprise computing market, Dell’s chief executive said. He predicted
managers will soon realize they have been overcharged in a Unix server market dominated by
Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and others.


The company’s shipments of four-processor Xeon servers, somewhat delayed by the
discovery of an error in Intel’s 450NX chip set, began last week.


Intel quickly provided a workaround for the chip set error, and Dell recertified its
systems after applying the fix, said Michael Lambert, senior vice president of Dell’s
enterprise systems group.


“These kinds of problems are not atypical,” Lambert said. “With the fix
installed, we’ve been running well over a week without being able to recreate the
problem.”


Dell officials in charge of the company’s federal business said they expected
agencies to buy the high-end Xeon servers for database transaction processing.


Other vendors with 32-bit Pentium II Xeon servers in production include Compaq Computer
Corp., Gateway Inc., Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Micron Electronics Inc. of Nampa, Idaho, NEC
Technologies Inc. of Itasca, Ill., NCR Corp. of Dayton, Ohio, and Unisys Corp.


Dell officials said their four-way Pentium II Xeon servers with 1M cache memory will
run 13 percent faster than current eight-way Intel Pentium Pro servers.


Dell builds the Xeon PowerEdge 6300 with seven PCI hot-plug slots, 64-bit PCI bus and
optional Fibre Channel storage. The Power Vault 650F external storage subsystem, which the
company will deliver in September, uses Data General Corp.’s Clariion Fibre Channel
RAID storage. Pricing for that unit will start at around $15,000. A rack-mount enclosure
will accept up to 48 of the 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors when Dell ships eight-way
versions of the PowerEdge server later this year.


Dell has certified the PowerEdge 6300 to run Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, NT 4.0
Enterprise Edition and Novell IntranetWare 4.11.


The PowerEdge 6300 is the first Xeon server certified by SAP America Inc. of Wayne,
Pa., to run the SAP R/3 integrated enterprise resource planning app, Dell officials said.


A four-processor, 400-MHz Xeon PowerEdge is $26,990 with 1M cache, 512M
error-correcting-code memory, three 9G low-voltage-differential SCSI hard drives, Intel
EtherExpress Pro+ 100-Mbps network card, 32X CD-ROM drive and Hewlett-Packard OpenView
Network Node Manager.


Dell’s server business model is based on eight-day parts inventories, direct
shipments around the world from local assembly plants, and standard components that lower
development costs, said Robert McFarland, vice president and general manager of Dell
federal sales and marketing.


With the introduction of the PowerEdge enterprise servers, Dell also announced a
Certified Systems Engineer program, a DellPlus Server custom integration program as part
of built-to-order manufacturing, and enterprise server installation services.


Compaq’s new ProLiant 7000 and ProLiant 6000 models will have up to four Intel
Pentium II Xeon processors, three-channel Wide Ultra SCSI-3 array controllers and
push-button PCI hot-plug slot management.


IBM’s four-way Pentium II Xeon server, the Netfinity 7000 M10, will be a
user-installed upgrade to IBM Netfinity 5000 servers. The upgrade should be ready in
September, IBM officials said. 

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