Penguin unsheathes Linux blade servers

Penguin Computing released its first Linux blade server system recently. The Linux-focused server firm is taking aim at larger blade server giants with a system it says is more dense than competing blade offerings.

Penguin's BladeRunner products consist of Linux-based blade servers and a 4U blade server chassis. The BladeRunner blades are Intel-based servers with dual 2.4 GHz Xeon processors with built-in network connectivity. The blades also include 2G bytes of memory, and 60G byte hard drives (2.5-inch form factor). The chassis itself includes a built-in switch with eight Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Penguin says its blade chassis can contain 12 servers in a 4U package, while HP's blade products holds 16 blade servers, but in a bulkier 6U chassis.

Penguin's target application for the BladeRunner is clustering, the company's forte. The vendor is offering a cluster-in-a-box configuration with BladeRunner, which includes up to 11 blades in a cluster, with one blade set aside as a controller node. Scyld Beowulf Linux clustering software is used to tie the processors together in a cluster. (Scyld is a Penguin subsidiary.)

Blades are becoming a hot industry for Linux. According to research firm IDC, Linux is used on almost half of the 75,000 blade servers shipped in the third quarter of this year. Linux is used less on factory-shipped rack-mount servers, with around 20% shipping on Linux. Linux is on only around 11% of stand-alone servers shipped, IDC says.

Penguin is offering a five-node BladeRunner cluster for US$25,000 and a full-chassis (11-node) cluster for US$42,000. The products are available now.

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