Sequent has paved the way for establishing Intel in the data centre with the release of its NUMA-Q 2000 family of highly scalable Pentium Pro-based servers.
The NUMA-Q architecture uses four-processor Pentium Pro SMP boards, linked together via a high-speed interconnect called IQ-Link.
According to Sequent, IQ-Link can support data transfer speeds of 1Gb per second and each board can be configured with a maximum of 1Gb of RAM.
Because IQ-Link is a shared memory architecture, machines can be scaled to hundreds of processors. In the case of the NUMA-Q 2000 range, systems can be equipped with up to 252 processors.
Initially, NUMA-Q 2000 will run Sequent's Dynix/ptx version of Unix.
In the future the range is expected to support Windows NT. Sequent is one of the few companies driving NT into the enterprise.
"I would expect to see NT in data centres within five years," predicted Casey Powell, Sequent's chairman and chief executive officer, in an interview with PC Week. "We will be offering an NT solution for the enterprise by the end of the year."
Powell believes NT's move into the data centre will be driven by the new breed of applications such as decision support. Those with a heritage in legacy systems such as OLTP will take longer to migrate. "People do not tend to mess with OLTP. If it works, leave it alone," said Powell.
He dismissed today's quad-processor PC server systems as mere toys. "You can't go to a data centre with these systems. Clustering them simply won't work. It takes a lot of experience to build a quad system for the data centre."
In terms of availability, Powell said NUMA-Q has an uptime of 99.99%, compared to 99.9% with other Intel systems. "Intel motherboards have a mean time between failure (MTBF) of 25,000 hours. Our technology is around 10 times more reliable," he claimed.
Pricing of the NUMA-Q 2000 family starts at $240,000 (#150,000).
Microsoft and partners such as Sequent are slowly chipping away the wall of prejudice that prevents the operating system from establishing itself throughout the enterprise. Data centres are no longer bastions of the mainframe. It is only a matter of time before NT establishes itself in this environment.
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