Compaq announces servers for telecom central office

Houston-based Compaq Computer Corp. last month announced the release of two new beefed-up servers geared for the telecommunications central office (CO).

Both the AlphaServer TS20 (the TS stands for Telecom Series) and TS40 provide more memory and processing power than previous versions, including the DS10CO released last November and Compaq’s Telecom division’s 4100CO which was released in 1999.

The TS20 and TS40 are NEBS Level 3 certified systems, and like the DS10CO, operate on Compaq’s 21264 alpha chip.

Compaq Canada spokesperson Ira Weiss said the company will market the servers to companies like Nortel, MCI and Cisco, who can combine their software with Compaq’s hardware to develop telephony solutions and services to sell to carriers.

Compaq says the AlphaServer Telecom Series servers support signal processing software such as the company’s IN7 and voice processing software such as Dialogic DM3. Advanced features in the servers include intelligent call routing, network-based call centres, call accounting, caller ID, Internet access and multimedia messaging, said Compaq.

Rob Ireland, Compaq Canada’s manager of corporate communications, said the company does not fear it released the Alpha servers at an inopportune time, despite recent financial troubles afflicting major carriers like Nortel. Almost all the so-called carriers’ carriers have revised their market projections downwards this year, citing lower spending from telecommunications companies.

“Some people may be looking at diminishing revenues…but we’re quite bullish on the server markets, the enterprise market in general, and more specifically, even within the telcos,” Ireland said.

Though Compaq’s Alpha servers can be used for both wireline and wireless telephony services, Ireland expects the growth in wireless communications to spur the purchase of his company’s servers.

“The more thin clients, or wireless devices, you have, the greater the need is for infrastructure,” he said.

Alan Freedman, a server analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto, agreed with Ireland that service providers would continue to look for more value-add, high-margin services.

However, he said Compaq faces an uphill battle to grab market share away from Sun Microsystems, which recently came out with a “pretty inexpensive” line of rack-mountable Netra T-1 servers.

Weiss admitted that Sun is Compaq’s primary competition. He said Compaq holds about a 10 per cent market share with its Alpha server line. He did not, however, have specific figures for what market share they hold for purely central office servers.

The DS10Co comes with either a 466MHz or 600MHz processor, as well as 2GB of error-correcting cache (ECC) 100MHz memory. The TS20 is a step up, as it is a dual-processor box. It can be set up with either a 500MHz or 667MHz processor, and it comes with 8GB of ECC 100MHz memory. The top-of-the-line TS40 is designed to be a replacement for the 4100CO. It comes with either four 500MHz or four 667MHz processors and 32GB of ECC 100MHz memory.

However, Weiss said the primary benefit of the two new servers over the 4100CO is that they feature cross-bar switching technology rather than the limited bus-based system on the 4100.

Weiss said the benefit of this is two-fold: one is there is better aggregate I/O throughput in the box; and two is that it allows Compaq to use standard memory DIMMs for a better balanced system.

The TS40 has a maximum I/O bandwidth of 5.2Gbps, said Weiss. The TS20’s maximum I/O bandwidth is 532Mbps, while the maximum I/O bandwidth on the DS10 is 250Mbps.

All three servers support Compaq’s Tru64 Unix operating system, which can be preconfigured if the customer chooses. Compaq also offers complete systems integration and installation services.

All servers come with a standard three-year warranty. The TS20 base model starts at $47,000, while the TS40 is listed at $83,000.

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