Vendors Unveil 450-MHz Xeon Offerings

Intel Corp. kicked off the New Year by unveiling updated versions of its 450-MHz Xeon processor that feature heartier cache complements of 1 MB and 2 MB. Hot on the heels of Intel’s announcement, a slew of vendors introduced new quad-processor PC servers based on the beefier Xeon designs.

Intel Corp. kicked off the New Year by unveiling updated versions of its 450-MHz Xeon processor that feature heartier cache complements of 1 MB and 2 MB. Hot on the heels of Intel’s announcement, a slew of vendors introduced new quad-processor PC servers based on the beefier Xeon designs.

"The challenges faced in the enterprise are never-ending, as the needs for greater performance, scalability and flexibility increase daily," said John Miner, vice president and general manager of Intel's enterprise server group, in a prepared statement. "Pentium II Xeon processor-based servers meet these needs by offering industry-leading performance for four-way and greater systems."

Beneficiaries of the 450-MHz Xeon’s optional 2 MB cache include database-intensive applications, online transaction processing systems and ERP solutions.

Some vendors that announced immediate availability of 450 MHz Xeon-based servers include Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Data General Corp., Unisys Corp., Hitachi PC Corp. and Intergraph Computer Systems. IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., NEC Computer Systems Division and the Computer Systems Division of Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. promised availability sometime this month.

Compaq led the way by announcing four 450-MHz Xeon-based servers with integrated 1 MB or 2 MB Level 2 cache, including new versions of the ProLiant 7000, the ProLiant 6500, the ProLiant 6000 and the ProLiant. Both the ProLiant 7000 and ProLiant 6500 are positioned for high-end enterprise environments, with support for 8 GB and 4 GB of ECC memory, respectively. Compaq indicated that the ProLiant 7000 would support an eight-way Xeon architecture, when it becomes available.

"We’ve completely refreshed our existing ProLiant 5500, 6000, 6500 and 7500 lines [which were previously shipping 400-MHz Xeons]," says Paul Sandler, segment director for enterprise x86 servers with Compaq, who notes that Compaq was Intel’s volume leader in Xeon shipments in 1998.

HP was the first vendor to produce a score based on the Transaction Processing Performance Council’s (www.tpc.org ) industry standard TPC/C benchmark for Xeon-based servers. The HP NetServer LXr 8000 notched a PC server-record 23,145 tpmC at an average cost of $27.68 per tpmC.

Hitachi, which entered the U.S. server market this fall, is immediately offering the new processor in its eight-way VisonBase 8880R Server.

PC server vendors have been bullish on the prospects of servers based on the 2 MB 450-MHz Xeon, which, they expect, will help Intel-based servers running the Windows NT operating system compete against entrenched RISC Unix systems in enterprise data centers and transaction processing environments.

"When you’re getting performance like that [achieved by the NetServer LXr 8000], not only does it beat all of the four-way RISC Unix boxes out there, but it’s competitive with the six- and eight-way RISC Unix boxes," says Larry Gray, HP product manager for the performance of NetServer systems. "From where the trends are going, it’s pretty obvious that NT is going to be able to solve most corporate computing problems."

According to Frank Nicolo, marketing manager for enterprise NT servers at Data General, quad-processor 450-MHz Xeon-based systems perform on par with RISC Unix systems -- at the traditional, fractional price points of Wintel solutions. "The numbers keep getting better, and the benchmarks are definitely starting to impinge upon some of those low-end Unix boxes," Nicolo says. "Although NT still doesn’t offer the maximum scalability of Unix boxes, the price/performance becomes even more attractive."