Intel and Compaq team on low power chips, servers

Compaq Computer Corp. plans to work with Intel Corp. to produce power-friendly servers using low-voltage processors, the companies announced at the annual NetWorld+Interop conference and expo in Las Vegas on Monday.

Compaq's upcoming QuickBlade hyper-dense server architecture for the company's ProLiant server line will incorporate Intel's low-voltage processor, code-named Tualatin. Compaq considers hyper-dense servers to be those smaller than one rack-unit (1.75-inches) tall, allowing more to fit on a server rack.

The company hopes to present the Tualatin-powered ProLiants by the end of the year, pitching them as general-purpose servers, said Sally Stevens, Compaq's director of marketing for density-optimized servers. Between then and now, Compaq will work with data centers to help them plan for an environment suitable for denser server farms.

"They're beginning to plan for their new data centers," she said. "Some are ready ... and some need to reevaluate."

Costs for maintaining banks of servers have grown due to increased Internet use by corporations and rising energy costs. The ability to increase the number of servers fitting in the same space is being viewed as a way to cut costs for air conditioning and server-room real estate.

Thinner servers in denser racks work on the contingency of lower energy consumption per server. Lots of servers with standard microprocessors in a small space will heat up quickly, introducing processing errors and equipment failures. Transmeta Corp. has been aggressively marketing the value of its low-voltage consumption Crusoe chip for servers.

Crusoe debuted as a processor for notebook computers, and Intel counterpunched with mobile Pentium III chips using its SpeedStep power management technology. The new Tualatin chip design uses a 0.13-micron architecture scheduled to arrive in the second half of this year.

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