IBM and Intel open some blade server specs

Standards grab

Hoping to create a level of standardization in the blade server market, IBM and Intel plan to announce tomorrow that they have opened some up the specifications for their shared blade designs.

IBM has posted information announcing the BladeCenter design platform specifications program. (IBM pulled this link shortly before our story posted, but this will do the trick.) These documents show that IBM and Intel are trying to attract switch, adapter card, chipset and other component makers by handing out the inner-workings of the BladeCenter product. In 2002, IBM and Intel announced their plans to codevelop blade servers.

IDG News Service was the first to report on the new spec program. IBM and Intel likely have other reporters trapped under NDAs until tomorrow.

The spec program is a bit underwhelming. IBM and Intel have long been looking for other server makers, namely HP and Dell, to pick up their designs. They hoped there would be some kind of standard blade design in the industry and that it would be theirs. Our reports from the field, however, suggest that HP's blade design has been more popular than IBM's. Our sources say that IBM has been forced to upgrade its power supply three times to deal with heat issues caused by BladeCenter, while HP's kit runs nice and cool. Dell has never been a major blade player and ships unimpressive gear. It's rumored to be working with Fujitsu on new designs.

IBM and Intel clearly hope the spec program will help remedy some of these standardization losses. If you get enough component makers delivering product for the BladeCenter first, it could put some pressure on HP.

The agreement presented on IBM's site opens up most of the component specs but keeps the chassis and management module secret. ®

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