Unisys to launch Itanium 2 servers

Unisys Corp. added two new lines to its ES7000 server series Tuesday, the Orion and the Aries, which run Intel Corp.’s new 64-bit Itanium 2 processor. The company will try to dent the Unix-controlled high-end server market and convince companies to consolidate their server rooms with the new machines.

The ES7000 Aries 130 and the ES7000 Orion 130 will come with either 900MHz and 1GHz Itanium 2 processors, and up to 64GB of memory. Users can also choose the ES7000 Aries 230 or ES7000 Orion 230 with Intel’s Xeon MP processors, at either 1.4GHz or 1.6GHz.

Computers featuring Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system and Intel’s processors dominate the desktop and low-end server markets, said Mark Feverston, vice-president of enterprise server marketing at Unisys. However, RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) chips running flavours of the Unix operating system from Sun Microsystems Inc. and IBM Corp. have long controlled the high end of the server market, where the more lucrative installations lie, he said.

“The Orion series will challenge the traditionally proprietary Unix or low-end mainframe market, while the Aries will be going up against lower-end Unix systems, like the Sun (Sun Fire) 6800,” Feverston said.

Also, companies with a lot of servers are looking to consolidate their data into a few large machines such as the Orion or Aries, he said. Disaster recovery plans are difficult to implement in an environment with a high number of servers, and the potential for a security breach increases with each server, he said.

The Orion line offers high performance and scalability for a cheaper price than similar Unix systems, said Unisys, based in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. Up to 32 Itanium or Xeon processors, which can be split into two independent 16-processor domains, can be included in the Orion series. It will be priced from US$140,000 to US$700,000, depending on the configuration.

The Aries line will be marketed as an entry-level step to high-performance computing. It features up to 16 Itanium 2 or Xeon MP processors, and will cost between US$75,000 and US$300,000, depending on the configuration.

All four servers will come with Microsoft’s Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition, which can be upgraded to Windows .Net Server when that comes out later this year. The availability of the Itanium servers will be delayed until September to be closer to the release date of .Net Server, Feverston said. The Xeon servers are available now.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has also introduced servers with the Itanium 2 processor, while Dell Computer Corp. has said it will wait and see how the market reacts to the new chip before making any hardware plans for it.