Dell's relationship with Intel took a knock last week as the PC maker admitted to PC Week that it would be choosing a non-Intel motherboard for its next generation of servers.
Dell, which previously relied on Intel parts, is to use boards from Reliance instead. The two-way Pentium III Xeon servers PowerEdge 2400 and 4400, the four-way 6400, due in September, will use the Reliance motherboard.
For the uni-processor and eight-way machines, Dell will stick with Intel.
The main driver for the change of supplier is an early move form 100MHz to 133MHz on the front-side bus, which controls the speed at which data is transferred between the CPU and memory controller, said Garry Owen, senior product marketing manager for Dell servers. Reliance also brings memory advantages, being able to address up to 4Gb of RAM.
"In the four processor space, Intel won't support SDRAM in the same time frame," he explained. "Cascade (the Intel chipset that will support 133MHz front-side bus) will not support four-way Xeon until June next year."
Owen claimed that Reliance has a three-month performance edge over Intel in the server space. Dell has been increasingly keen of late to show that it is not a vendor dominated by its main suppliers Intel and Microsoft.
Last month, the company quietly certified its workstations for Sun Solaris, which certifies its servers not only for NT and NetWare, but also SCO, Solaris, Linux and IBM O/S2.
"Clearly our strategy will remain focused on Windows NT or Windows 2000, but when we get to eight-way we begin to start talking about mission-critical environments and there are certainly other operating systems being used.
Quite clearly Dell will look at adopting those when we need to," said Owen.
Company CEO Michael Dell spoke publicly last week about the possibility of taking on Unix as an alternative to NT.
One potential alternative operating system is Linux, which is expected to have overcome its current performance issues when scaling beyond single and dual-processors by the time eight-way servers ship.
Dell expects to promote Linux from "order ready" status to factory install by the end of the year, which would put it on the same footing as NT or NetWare.
Another possible alternative would be the 32-bit version of SCO/IBM Monterey, which will also be ready when eight-way servers ship. Dell denied any concrete plans to formally adopt Monterey.
Eight-way server news, p3.
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