Stratus adds dual-core chips to systems

Stratus Technologies said Monday it would begin shipping a server with dual-core processors that is about half the price of its current high-end system, but just as reliable.

The new ftServer 5700 is a dual-chip system that uses Intel Xeon 2.8GHz dual-core processors. The fault-tolerant server, designed for mission-critical uses such as public safety, will be offered with double redundancy, or double the amount of processors, memory and disks.

Stratus believes users of its high-end ftServer 6600 will eventually move to the new dual-core system. The 6600 is the only Stratus server with triple redundancy capability, but most of its customers configured it for double redundancy, said Denny Lane, Stratus director for product management. "What we found is our availability on a triple-redundant system is virtually identical to our double-redundant system," he said.

The 6600 is also the only Stratus server that can be configured as a four-processor system, although Lane believes that a dual-core, dual-processor system such as the 5700 can handle workloads that now run on four-chip servers. Stratus uses Windows Enterprise Edition on its servers.

While the Maynard, Mass.-based company believes many 6600 users will migrate to the 5700, it will continue to offer its high-end hardware. Some users, such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, want triple-redundant features, the company said.

The ftServer 5700 sells for about $US45,000, while a two-processor 6600 costs about $US95,000 for a double-redundant system. The price difference is due in large part to the Intel chip, the high-end Xeon MP, used by Stratus, said Lane. The ftServer 6600 triple-redundancy capabilities meant it often took up more rack space than needed, even if the customer didn't need the extra redundancy, said Lane.

Stratus' main competitor among fault tolerant systems vendors is Hewlett Packard Co., which sells the NonStop system originally developed by Tandem Computers. Compaq acquired Tandem in 1997 and HP acquired Compaq in 2002. NonStop is also available as a triple-redundant system.

Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata, said some users still want triple-redundant systems. "It gives you a larger window to fix a problem," he said.

While Stratus and HP overlap in some parts of the fault-tolerant market, Haff believes Stratus isn't going after the very high-end of the market. HP has targeted high-end operations with its Itanium-based Integrity systems and its NonStop kernel operating system. For Stratus, "they're kind of real pitch is fault tolerance on a budget," he said.

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