Upgrades from four-way to eight-way Profusion-based Pentium Xeon servers will not be straightforward.
"Anyone saying that it is an easy upgrade is disingenuous; you will have to throw away everything except the disks and maybe the memory," said Garry Owen, senior product marketing manager for Dell servers.
Dell and IBM did not join Compaq and Hewlett-Packard in announcing four-way servers capable of in-chassis upgrade last year. Compaq and HP still maintain that their Pentium II and Pentium III Xeon machines can be upgraded, but it will require an entirely new motherboard, which means removing the processors, chipset and I/O.
"The vast majority of customers will choose to write off the servers and use them for something else, rather than upgrade them, " admitted Hugh Jenkins, product marketing manager at HP.
For customers of Siemens, one of few server manufacturers that has chosen its own chipset rather than adopting Intel's Profusion chipset, upgrades will be easier.
Whereas Intel and its OEMs put all the processors, chipset, memory and I/O on the same motherboard, Siemens has adopted a modular approach, putting all ingredients on separate boards, enabling modules to be upgraded individually.
"You add a second board with four processors along side the existing processor board and a board with the Level 2 cache that slots in above.
It took me 25 minutes," claimed Phil Baker, enterprise server product manager at Siemens.
Siemens, along with Compaq and HP, said they had stockpiled sufficient stocks of PII and PIII Xeon processors to fulfil any orders for upgrades.
Siemens had hoped to capitalise on continued delays to Intel's Profusion architecture with a March launch (see PC Week, 16 February), but its own development issues mean that it will now only enjoy a three-week window of opportunity, said Baker.
Last week, Siemens announced the Primergy 870-80 eight-way Pentium III Xeon server, at £45,000, and the 870-40 upgradeable four-way machine at £19,000; both are scheduled to ship in August. The firm is now shipping the 670-40 standard four-way (£10,300) and the 170 single processor box (from £1,300). It also introduced a modular rack-mounted server, the Node70-40. Priced at £13,500, this is a four-processor box, four units high, used with a separate S40 storage system, for customers like ISPs that wish to separate storage disks from processors.
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