RLX rolls out new blades and high end software

RLX Technologies Inc. upgraded its blade server line on Monday, releasing new hardware, management software and improved high performance computing applications.

RLX rolled out one of its fastest servers to date - the ServerBlade 1200i based on the 1.2GHz mobile Pentium III processor from Intel Corp. Along with the new server, the company launched Version 4.0 of its Control Tower management software and a new product targeted at the scientific computing market for creating large clusters of RLX servers, said John Schmitz, Control Tower marketing manager at RLX of The Woodlands, Texas.

"The 1200i definitely allows us to get into some new areas that are performance sensitive," Schmitz said.

Blade servers build on a trend among hardware makers to cram as many servers as possible in the smallest space. The no-nonsense servers plug into a shared backplane that cuts down the number of cables running down the back of a rack. In addition, blade servers tend to consumer less power than regular systems, which means companies can save on energy costs.

RLX and Hewlett-Packard Co. have led the still young blade computing market thus far. However, competitors such as Dell Computer Corp., IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are all revving up blade server products of their own.

One of the earliest players in the blade space, RLX has pushed to fit as many blade servers as possible into a chassis. With some of its systems based on Transmeta Corp. processors, RLX has managed to squeeze 24 blade servers -- essentially exposed motherboards -- into a 3U (133 millimeters) high case. The new 1200i, however, uses faster, more energy hungry chips that limit how closely servers can be stacked but also makes the server more suitable for high performance applications, Schmitz said.

Users will be able to pack 12 of the 1200i blades in a 3U chassis. Each blade can hold two 60G-byte disks and 2G bytes of memory. A ServerBlade 1200i with one processor and 256M bytes of memory starts at US$1529.

"In general, there are certain customers that demand more performance and want to see processor speeds that are 1GHz and higher," Schmitz said.

With Control Tower 4, administrators will find new tools for managing user settings such as IDs and access to applications. The software lets an administrator vary user controls between each blade, giving them more fine tuned control over the hardware, Schmitz said.

In addition, users can now update the software on their blades one file at a time. Previous versions of ControlTower required administrators to work with the entire software image, including the operating system and applications, on a blade. Administrators can now send just a software patch, for example, across all of their servers, Schmitz said.

RLX has also updated its BLAST Cluster Solution software package by adding Platform Computing Inc.'s LSF 5 job scheduler. The cluster software is targeted at the scientific computing segment, particularly the bioinformatics market.

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