NEC Slices Its Way Into U.S. Blade Market

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Jun 9, 2004


NEC this week unveiled its first blade server for the U.S. market, an offering that is also the first Intel Itanium 2 Blade server from a major server provider.

NEC this week unveiled its first blade server for the U.S. market, an offering that is also the first Intel Itanium 2 Blade server from a major server provider.

NEC plans to begin shipping the Express5800/1020Ba Blade server offering in September with an eye on the Linux cluster space, Scott Schweitzer, product manager of Itanium products for NEC Solutions, America, told ServerWatch. The blade server's 64-bit architecture, 4x InfiniBand capabilities, and high memory capacity make it well-suited for organizations running multithreaded, processor-intensive applications.

The blades will also feature:

  • 24 GB of expandable memory
  • Automatic fail-over with redundant switches to provide uninterrupted availability and hot-swappable capabilities
  • Two on-board 73GB U320 SCSI hard drives with built-in I/O and two Gb Ethernet ports, USB, and video
  • Built-in management interface to consolidate KVM management functions for both local and remote (over IP) consoles and "system shared" FD/DVD, as well as to enable the management of power control, status monitor, error alert, error logging, and configuration control
  • A design that consolidates cables, power supplies, storage, and network switching onto a single chassis to enable uninterrupted operation when adding, moving, or replacing blades.

The NEC Express5800/1020Ba blade server interfaces with external devices via a 4x InfiniBand PCI-X host adapter, that offers 1 GB per second of throughput and delivers up to eight simultaneous communications paths over a single cable. Each blade server comes standard with two Itanium 2 processors, allowing the 1.6GHz processor blades to deliver 12.8 GFLOPS performance, with nine blades fitting into a single 10U chassis, providing up to 18 processors per chassis, making the system capable of delivering more than 345 GFLOPS of processing power per cabinet.

The Express5800/1020Ba Blade server is designed to operate most efficiently in Linux clusters, Schweitzer said. The software that comes with the blade system virtualizes one node across many, giving multiple blades the appearance of a single system image. It also allows chassis to be aggregated together.

Although NEC pushes Red Hat as the operating system for the blades, Schweitzer said that SUSE Linux can also run on the blades.

The 19-inch rack mountable chassis is 10U high with room for nine blades and two half-U control blades. Powerwise, a full chassis consumes 5 KW running 1.4 GHz chips at 220 volts. Redundant DC power is provided for the first four blades, and additional redundant power, which consumes 2U is also available.

Although this is NEC's first blade offering in the United States, the vendor is no stranger to the blade space. NEC currently sells a third-generation 32-bit blade in Japan, Schweitzer said. NEC does not bring products to markets where it will not have a competitive advantage, Schweitzer added; thus the reason for setting its sights on the 64-bit market.

NEC already has several U.S. partners lined up. John Hallquist, president at Livermore Software Technology, an ISV, is developing customized crash test simulation solutions for the automotive industry. Other areas where NEC anticipates the Express5800/1020Ba Blade server being deployed are genome mapping, weapons research, and financial market simulation.

The Express5800/1020Ba will be priced at $79,000 for a chassis packed with nine 2-way blades, each with 2GB of memory, 136 GB of hard drive storage and redundant power. Installation, software and maintenance are priced separately. Other price configuration combos are also available, Schweitzer said.

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