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It's only a small detail in this InfoWorld story, but it has all the ingredients for a perfect storm.

"A high ranking executive at a Dell partner has said, on condition of anonymity, that Dell will likely ship an Opteron-based server manufactured by Newisys Inc. Both Newisys and Dell are based in Austin, Texas," reports Ashlee Vance.

Officially Newisys won't comment on any deals.

It's a fascinating start-up, packed with distinguished stars from IBM. The CEO is Phil Hester, former CTO of IBM's PC division, general manager of the RS/6000 and one of the co-founders of the AIM (Apple/IBM/Motorola) alliance.

He's but one of several Unix veterans; the CTO is IBM Fellow Rich Oehler, who was the technical lead on the RS/6000; the chief finance guy looked after the S/390 business. Mike Maples, once Bill Gates' right-hand man, before he left Microsoft in 1995, is on the board. Forest Basket you might remember from DEC: he founded and led the Western Research Lab, and was CTO at Silicon Graphics. (And you surely can't forget such a wonderful name). There are strong connections to Dell, too.

And Dell appears to be Newisys' first customer. Newisys has already demonstrated a 2-CPU 1U rack system [specs], which is interesting enough itself. There's a service processor that handles SSL transactions and performs management tasks, it can take up to 16GB of RAM, and Newisys has written their own management software. This service processor (capitalized in Newisys' own literature) can control the fan and CPU beyond what the OS might be capable of: "When the OS has shut down, or if the OS fails to respond, the Service Processor will turn off the server’s main power. All these situations result in alerts being sent to the browser-based console(s) and via SNMP to external management systems."

But the engineering expertise is in building scalable SMPs, so we can assume that this is only the beginning. In this must-read > EE Times article, CEO Hester talks about a system that scales to 32 processors.

This is 64bit, enterprise-class system kit with AMD chips at the core. This is very bad for Itanic, and should be more than a little troubling for Sun, too. Microsoft killed Intel's plans for a 64bit x86 instruction set, according to uncorroborated scuttlebutt (unless you count hearing the same rumor twice as corroboration - we don't) and Sun needs volumes to justify its SPARC business.

2003 is going to be fun. ®

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