RLX to launch Intel-based blade servers

RLX Technologies is expected to diversify its blade server line in two weeks when the company announces its first Intel-based product, according to sources.

RLX was one of the first companies to start selling blades, which are trimmed-down servers that can be packed into a rack to handle tasks such as serving up Web pages, e-mail, caching, security and streaming media. The company picked Transmeta Corp.'s Crusoe chips for its initial products and can fit 24 Crusoe-based servers in a chassis only 5.25 inches (3U) high.

While RLX enjoyed success with its Transmeta line, the company is scheduled to show a new blade using Intel's 800MHz low voltage Pentium III chip, sources told IDG News Service. The Intel-based products may offer higher performance than the Transmeta servers, but RLX will not be able to pack the Intel blades as tightly because of higher heat production, the sources said. RLX is also expected to announce a two-processor Intel-based blade server later in the quarter.

RLX's support for Intel comes as the vendor faces increasing pressure from larger rivals. Hewlett-Packard Co. released a telecommunications-focused blade server last year, and Compaq Computer Corp. came out with a blade server this year that comes close to matching RLX's density.

Transmeta is also facing heavy pressures from Intel in the low-voltage processor space even though its Crusoe chips tend to consume less power, said one analyst.

"If you are going to be the challenger, you have to have better performance than Intel probably by at least 50 percent," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64 in Saratoga, California. "Whether or not Transmeta can meet that hurdle, I don't know."

A possible boost to Transmeta's cause could come from the TM5800, which is shipping in laptops from Sony Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. This chip met with several delays in its production cycle but is now ready for large scale delivery, sources said. Transmeta is shipping a 733MHz and an 800MHz version of the chip and plans to release a 900MHz and a 1GHz version before the end of the year.