Fujitsu launches new Itanium servers

Fujitsu launches new Itanium servers

Fujitsu officially unveiled its new PrimeQuest mainframe-class Itanium systems on Tuesday.

Fujitsu has unveiled two new servers designed to bring mainframe-class features to Windows and Linux users. More than two years in development, the systems -- called the PrimeQuest 480 and PrimeQuest 440 -- represent Fujitsu's first attempt at building high-end systems using Intel's Itanium 2 microprocessor.

"The PrimeQuest is the next generation of mainframe. However this mainframe is different from the current legacy mainframes," Fujitsu corporate executive vice-president, Chiaki Ito, said. Unlike Fujitsu's current mainframe products, the PrimeQuest will be built with standard technologies provided by partners like Intel, Microsoft and Red Hat, he said.

When the new servers become available this June, they will initially ship with only the Red Hat Linux operating system. Support for Novell's Suse Linux and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition is expected in September, Fujitsu said.

The servers are designed to support as many as 32 processors. When Intel launches its first dual-core Itanium processor later in the year, the 32-processor systems will support as many as 64 processing engines, company executives said.

The PrimeQuest 480 is a 32-processor system that will ship with as much as 512GB of memory. The PrimeQuest 440 will house as many as 16 processors and 256GB of memory. PrimeQuest will eventually support as much as 1TB of memory, but Fujitsu executives declined to say when this will happen.

Both systems will initially ship with either the 1.6GHz or 1.5GHz version of Intel's "Madison 9M" Itanium 2 processors.

By bringing mainframe-class features to Windows and Linux customers, Fujitsu hopes to establish a sizeable niche for itself in the enterprise IT space. Fujitsu executives predicted they would sell more than 10,000 PrimeQuest units over the next three years, which would represent about $US2 billion in revenue for the company, they estimated. Though the products are not yet generally available, Fujitsu has already begun shipping its first systems to Toyota Motor in Japan.

The PrimeQuest systems are not Fujitsu's first foray into the Itanium market. Fujitsu currently sells Primergy servers with as many as four Itanium processors, but now expands its product line into the high end with servers that support between eight and 32 Itanium processors.

IT services company, EDS, is looking at the Fujitsu systems as a way to consolidate Windows applications on one box without the complexity or expense of a clustered server architecture, its vice-president of technology strategy and architecture, Stan Alexander, said. "We're starting to see a lot more movement toward growing large workloads on Windows," he said.

EDS expects to begin testing its first PrimeQuest systems in several months, he said.

Though Itanium has failed to live up to initial expectations, it has been gaining momentum of late. In addition to Fujitsu, Unisys, NEC, and Hitachi have all announced mainframe-class Itanium systems and sales of Itanium servers totalled $US1.4 billion in 2004, according to research firm IDC.

Building servers that can add mainframe-class reliability to Windows and Linux applications is a logical next step for server vendors, IDC analyst, Jean Bozman, said. "Windows and Linux are the two fastest growing segments of the server market," she said.

Pricing for the PrimeQuest systems was not disclosed.

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