Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM will introduce their eight-way, 550MHz Pentium III Xeon-based servers this week, promising enhanced processing power at little extra cost. The vendors hope the new hardware will help drive Intel-based servers running Windows NT and Windows 2000 into the enterprise, where they can compete with higher-end Unix machines.
"This really gives us an opportunity to target customers that until now have focused their mission-critical computing on RISC-based machines," said Eric Cannell, product marketing manager at Dell.
James Gruener, an analyst at the Aberdeen Group, said the low price points and high performance could make the servers very attractive.
More than simply relying on low price points, however, vendors will need to assuage users' concerns about the new machines' fault-tolerance capabilities.
Now that the products are finally available after almost five months of waiting, the next step, Gruener said, will be to figure out where they fit in the enterprise. Vendors will then be able to develop optimised applications for the machines.
All the vendors' eight-way offerings will be strikingly similar. The servers will be rack-optimised with a 7u form factor, and all four companies expect to ship later this month.