A new system design called Cellular Multiprocessing (CMP) will allow Unisys to ship a ?partitionable? 32-processor NT server early next year.
Based on Intel processors, the machine can be software configured to function as a cluster of symmetric multiprocessing servers or as one 32-processor machine.
Unisys, which launched its architecture in San Francisco yesterday and worldwide today, claims its CMP design combines the advantages of clustering and SMP. As in an SMP systems, processors can be added to boost performance. As in a cluster, high availability can be guaranteed by enabling applications fail over to another server ? with the added advantage that both servers would be connected by shared memory, speeding up this transfer.
CMP will support four to 32 Intel processors in one system, up to 32Gbytes of shared memory and up to 96 PCI slots. The processors can be combined into one SMP system or partitioned in up to eight separate servers. The separate servers can run different operating systems simultaneously and the partitions can be changed by the systems administrator.
To speed up communication between CPUs, CMP uses a 'crossbar', a type of switch, instead of a shared bus. This allows multiple point-to-point transfers at the same time.
Axil, which has designed an eight-processor NT server design that is licensed by Hewlett Packard and others, also uses a crossbar design.
According to Unisys, an important use of the CMP architecture will be to allow multiple servers to be consolidated into one box, facilitating system management. For instance, a Unix database server and an NT application server can be combined in one box, with CPUs dynamically assigned to either system according to workload.
Unisys will position the servers mainly as high end NT machines. But the company will also resell the systems with SCO Unixware.
Unisys said it is seeking OEM deals with other vendors, which will be free to ship systems with other operating systems that run on Intel processors.
The first CMP systems from Unisys will be available in early 1999. They will be based on Intel?s forthcoming Pentium II Xeon processor, a souped-up Pentium II with a 100MHz bus and larger, full speed level 2 cache. But they will be ready for the 64-bit Merced processor, expected to ship in late 1999. Unisys said Xeon and Merced processors can be combined in one server.
Unisys did not announce pricing for its CMP systems, saying only that they will be priced to be ?competitive? with conventional eight-processor NT servers.
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