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Cobalt drops MIPS for x86 in next-gen server appliance

300MHz AMD K6-2 based RaQ 3 to be launched next week

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Server appliance specialist Cobalt has thrown out MIPS and embraced x86 for the next generation of its RaQ server line, due to be launched new week. And it is likely to migrate its whole line over to x86 within six to eight months. The current RaQ 2, launched last March, is based on a 250MHz MIPS chip. The new model, the RaQ 3, will instead contain a 300MHz AMD K6-2 processor. Cobalt's decision to ditch its support for MIPS essentially boils down to the wider availability of software written for Linux, the RaQ's OS, on the x86 platform compared to MIPS, according to Cobalt's Western Europe channel sales director, John Fleming. With the launch of the RaQ 3, due to take place next week on 26 October, Cobalt is pushing its server appliance further towards the high end, primarily at ISPs and big business who want provide for others or host their own e-commerce and database applications. Given so much commercial Linux development work is centring on the x86 platform, anyone who wants to get in on the act quickly clearly can't wait for the big ISVs to port their offerings over to other chips. So, in the spirit of the old cliché -- if the Mohammed won't come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed -- Cobalt is moving to x86. Gunter Kraft, Cobalt's EMEA marketing director, said that many of the big name database vendors, including Oracle and Informix, are porting their apps over to the RaQ 3. But since the RaQ 3 runs standard Red Hat Linux 6 so that, according to Kraft, the server will run almost all x86 Linux software, these companies' support is rather broader than Cobalt would have us think. Applications that won't run straightaway (the restriction centres on keyboard, mouse and monitor support, since the RaQ doesn't offer any of these devices) can be ported in a matter of hours, compared to days or weeks for MIPS, said Fleming. For now, the RaQ 3 will sit at the top of the RaQ product line, backed up by a handful of RaQ 2 configurations. However, since Cobalt is committed to releasing new versions of the product every six months, the existing MIPS-based machines can't be long for this world. Ditto its Qube, small office-oriented intranet server appliance. Praveen Bhatia, ISP product line manager, told The Register not to expect an x86 version for "six to eight months", so it's clear there's a version on the way, even if it won't be released in the short-term. The RaQ 3 will ship with 512MB RAM, a 20GB SCSI hard drive, dual 10/100 Ethernet ports and an single PCI slot. It consumes just 35W of power. The machine will ship with new e-commerce-oriented security and storefront software, plus bandwidth management tools for ISPs hosting multiple customer sites. ®

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