Vendors are readying eight-processor Xeon servers that early benchmark scores show will outperform their four-way counterparts.
Performance among eight-way servers depends largely on two fairly new Intel technologies: the Profusion chipset and PSE-36, also known as the Intel Extended Server Memory Architecture.
The Profusion chipset, which has been adopted by most major Intel server vendors, handles memory and I/O processing.
Corollary, a subsidiary of Intel, is fabricating the chipset under a co-development deal between Intel and Compaq.
Intel will contribute the memory controller to Profusion, while Compaq will add I/O processing capabilities to enable the chipset to move from 64-bit 33MHz PCI to 64MHz PCI technology, harnessing greater processing power.
PSE-36 is a 36-bit memory addressing technology included in Xeon Pentium II processors. Without PSE-36, Windows NT and Windows 2000 wouldn't be able to address beyond 4GB of memory.
On the hardware side, Hewlett-Packard is seeing benchmark scores for its eight-way NT servers that are up to 70 per cent better than those for its four-way servers. In the first half of 1999, HP will ship a follow-up to its NetServer LXr 8000 box based on Profusion.
Compaq expects to start testing its eight-way Xeon Pentium 11 servers this month and plans to ship the models in the first quarter of 1999.
IBM plans to use the Profusion chipset on an eight-way edition of its NetFinity server scheduled to ship in the second half of next year. Data General said the company's four-way AV8700 server will be available in an eight-way version.
Dell and Unisys will use the high-speed Profusion chipset to power their eight-way offerings, but the companies were reluctant to comment further.