NEC, Hitachi showcase Itanium servers

Two of Japan's major computer vendors, NEC Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., have followed Intel Corp.'s launch of its new Itanium processor with new servers based on the chip.

Intel launched the Itanium processor, the company's 64-bit play for the high performance server market, on Tuesday. The company is hoping that the new machine will help it move into this market, where it will compete with specialized processors from companies like Sun Microsystems Inc. Two of the three machines launched by NEC and Hitachi are based on the open-source Linux operating system and took pride of place on their respective stands at the Linux World Tokyo Expo, currently taking place in the Japanese capital.

NEC unveiled two Itanium servers, each based on the same hardware but running different operating systems. The Express 5800/1160Xa is designed to run Linux or Microsoft Corp.'s new version of Windows, code named Whistler, while the TX7/Asusa runs Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Unix operating system, HP-UX.

NEC's servers are based on either the 733MHz or 800MHz version of the chip and can handle between two and 16 processors. Performance is between 5.8G flops (floating point operations per second), for the basic 2-way, 733MHz-based machine, up to 51.2G flops, for the 16-way, 800MHz-based model. The server can accommodate between 512M bytes and 64G bytes of memory. A base model running Linux costs 15 million yen (US$125,000).

Hitachi also unveiled a Linux server, the HA8000-ex/880. The machine is based on the 800MHz version of the Itanium and can be configured with two, four, six or eight processors. Maximum memory is 64G bytes. Prices begin at 12.3 million yen for the base model, which has 2 processors and 36G bytes of hard disk space.

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