Compaq Computer Corp.

, Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. are expected to introduce their eight-way, 550MHz Pentium III Xeon-based servers this month, promising enhanced processing power at little extra cost. The vendors hope the new hardware will help drive Intel-based servers running Windows NT and Windows 2000 into the enterprise, where they can compete with higher-end Unix machines. James Gruener, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston, said the servers’ low price points and high performance could make them very attractive. All the vendors’ eight-way offerings will be strikingly similar. The servers will be rack-optimized with a 7u form factor, and all four companies expect to ship this month. Pricing will span from the mid-US$20,000s for bare-bones offerings to the US$80,000 range for fully loaded eight-way machines. There will also be little variance in product names, with Compaq offering the ProLiant 8000 and 8500, Dell the PowerEdge 8450, HP the NetServer LXr 8500, and IBM the Netfinity 8500r. Compaq is at Dell is at HP is at IBM is at