Dell's first Itanium server is mainly for development

It's the Quarrymen not the Beatles

Dell said Intel's Itanium processor will largely be a development platform when it detailed its plans to release high-end servers based on the chip.

The lack of applications that can exploit the processors 64-bit architecture, and users natural desire to test the waters before putting systems into production mean that the successor to Itanic, McKinley, may be the first to be trusted with mission critical applications.

That said Dell execs at its Limerick plant yesterday were upbeat about the potential of its first Itanic-based server, the rack-based PowerEdge 7150, which will be available later this year, to compete with and even outperform Risc-based systems in running database and enterprise applications.

Performance benchmarks aren't yet available for systems based on the long-awaited chip, so we'll have to see about the performance claims. Whilst pricing details on IA-64 systems are vague, the idea is that they'll be much cheaper than conventional Unix systems. A lot will depend on the availability of applications and Dell is working with Intel and 20 ISVs, including IBM DB2, SAP and Veritas, to develop these.

Dell said a large telco, which it didn't name, was involved in beta testing of Itanic servers and was interested in using the architecture to run a data mining application that would highlight suspicious or potentially fraudulent phone calls. This is one of 25 organisations, including Cornell University, Motorola and Nasdaq, piloting Dell featuring the Itanic processor.

The direct PC and server vendor sees the main market for its PowerEdge 7150 as among the scientific community, for running applications such as supply chain and ERP and (to a lesser extent) server consolidation.

PowerEdge 7150 will be capable of supporting up to four 733 MHz or 800 MHz Intel Itanium Processors, up to 64 GB of memory and up to four hot-plug, redundant hard drives for up to 144 GB of internal storage.

Dell's techies said that the vastly extended memory addressing space that will come with Itanic and increased floating point performance would be attractive to users. All this has potential, a bit like John Lennon's first band The Quarrymen, but we can't really see it all coming to much until the processor equivalent of the Beatles comes out. ®

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