IBM, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Compaq formalised their split with Intel over the future of the PC server architecture on Wednesday by joining Adaptec to form the Future I/O Forum.
The four companies are working on a Future I/O input/output specification for Intel-based PC servers that will be presented at the Server I/O conference in Monterey, California, next month. The spec is expected to be adopted for use in systems that will appear by 2002.
However, by creating their own standard, the Future I/O vendors are revolting against what is widely seen as an attempt by Intel to commoditise the PC server market.
Only last week, Intel announced the formation of its Next Generation Input Output (NGIO) Industry Forum, which includes Dell, Sun Microsystems, Hitachi, NEC and Siemens, to develop the NGIO specification, which was first proposed by it last November.
The first NGIO systems are expected to hit the market in 2000 ? a full two years before the first Future I/O systems are due.
But for machines based on Intel?s next-generation processors such as the 64-bit Merced chip to compete with rival proprietary server architectures from HP and IBM, they need to replace industry-standard PCI buses with faster technology that can take advantage of the faster new processors.
Kimball Brown, an analyst with Dataquest, said: "Hewlett-Packard spends a lot of money on I/O - that?s why they want a standard that can be ?innovated? upon by OEMs. Intel would like all OEMs to be distributors."
But understandably, Intel is unhappy about the proposed rival standard.
"\nfortunately, when you get in this situation where there are competing standards, it slows down the growth of the market. Our understanding, based on today?s statements, is that these three companies [IBM, Compaq and HP] are going to offer a proprietary, royalty-based technology," an Intel spokesman said.
By contrast, however, the core specification of Intel?s NGIO will be available royalty-free, he added.
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