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Crusoe blade server pioneer picks Intel

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Updated RLX Technology, which blazed the trail for high density blade servers using Transmeta's Crusoe chips, will launch systems based on Intel CPUs in a fortnight, IDG reports.

Chris Hipp, who co-founded RLX with John Cracken and John Harkey, couldn't comment on a precise date but confirmed that Intel-based blades will be added to the RLX range. Transmeta told us today the pair are as close as ever, and Hipp said RLX will continue to work with Transmeta.

"We've been doing more than OK with the 667MHz Crusoe," Hipp told us. "Intel is a little behind in the power consumption but both have their place," he said. "This makes RLX blades more palatable to people who are concerned with Intel, and want a little higher performance."

RLX recruited leading Compaq engineers and management including Gary Stimac, who founded Compaq's PC server business in the mid-1980s. The mothership debuted its own Proliant BL10e blades a couple of weeks ago. The first BL incarnation uses a low-voltage 700MHz PIII and Compaq claims 20 blades can be hosted in a 3u rack.

That's a higher density than HP's blade initiative which as we remarked here, looks very nice but hardly qualifies for the description "ultra dense".

It's not hard to guess which of these two currently competing blade strategies faces the um, chop, should the Sircam Merger between HP and Compaq be given the nod.

Startup Egenera offers 24 blades in an 84" (48U) box, which is an even lower density. It also offers comfortably the highest performing offering, opting for 1GHz and 1.26GHz CPUs.

"There's no way you can call Egenera a low power or a high density blade," scoffs Hipp. "They only started calling it a blade after RLX made the term fashionable."

Of the latecomers, HP has by the far most serious blade strategy, with plans to launch a range of appliance blades, with some including PA-RISC chips. At the time of the launch in December, HP didn't rule out using Transmeta or AMD processors in future blades.

A striking absentee so far is Sun, which is known to be working on but has yet to announce its blade strategy. Brown envelopes to the usual address, please. ®

Blade bootnote: Hipp's original choice of processor in late-1999 had been the mobile Celeron, which he figured could provide 12CPUs in a 3u rack. This predated the Transmeta announcement on January 19 2000. The arrival of Crusoe doubled the potential density.

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