Fujitsu launches Itanium servers for Linux, Windows

Fujitsu last week introduced two Itanium-based servers designed to offer mainframe-class features to Windows and Linux users.

The PrimeQuest 440 and 480 systems, which have been in development for more than two years, represent Tokyo-based Fujitsu's first attempt at building high-end systems around Intel's 64-bit Itanium 2 microprocessor.

Chiaki Ito, corporate executive vice president, said at a press conference in San Francisco that PrimeQuest is Fujitsu's next generation of mainframes. "However, this mainframe is different from the current legacy mainframes," he noted.

When the new servers become available in June, they will initially support only Red Hat's version of Linux. Support for Novell's SUSE Linux operating system and Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition software is expected by September, Fujitsu said.

Electronic Data Systems is considering using the Fujitsu machines to consolidate Windows applications on one box without the complexity or expense of a clustered server architecture, said Stan Alexander, vice president of technology strategy and architecture at EDS. "We're starting to see a lot more movement toward growing large workloads on Windows," he said. The IT services vendor plans to test its first PrimeQuest systems within the next several months, Alexander added.

The PrimeQuest 480 is a 32-processor system that will ship with as much as 512GB of memory; the PrimeQuest 440 will support up to 16 processors and 256GB. The systems will eventually support as much as 1TB of memory, but Fujitsu executives declined to say when that will happen.

The systems will be able to handle the dual-core Itanium processor that Intel plans to launch later in the year, which will increase the number of processing engines supported on the PrimeQuest 480 to 64, Fujitsu said.

The company predicted that it will sell more than 10,000 PrimeQuest units in the next three years, which would represent an estimated US$2 billion in revenue.

PrimeQuest isn't Fujitsu's first foray into the Itanium market, but its earlier offering was limited to the Primergy server line, which supports only four CPUs.

Though Itanium has failed to live up to initial expectations for adoption by corporate users, Unisys, NEC and Hitachi have all preceded Fujitsu in announcing mainframe-class systems based on the processor.

Sales of Itanium servers totaled US$1.4 billion last year, according to research firm IDC. Building servers that can add mainframe-class reliability to Windows and Linux applications is a logical next step for server vendors, said IDC analyst Jean Bozman.

McMillan writes for the IDG News Service.

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