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Fujitsu says size doesn't matter in Itanium server game

Upcoming systems are small and late

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Fujitsu did a bit of disappointing this week when it announced new Itanium systems that are later and smaller than expected.

The server maker won't start selling the new PrimeQuest 480 and PrimeQuest 440 servers until June. It had once hoped to get out this fresh line of systems that use Intel's Madison version of Itanium by the end of last year. No such luck.

In addition to the delay, Fujitsu hasn't shipped all the server some customers had expected. It once vowed to release a 64-processor Itanic behemoth. But the PrimeQuest 480 tops out at 32 processors, and the PrimeQuest 440 holds just 16 processors.

Fujitsu concedes that the market for huge Itanium boxes hasn't developed as it hoped. It reckons the 32-processor system will be plenty of server for most customers, especially since it will be outfitted with the dual-core Montecito Itaniums from Intel late this year or early next year. So, in some ways, Fujitsu will eventually bring out the promised 64-processor box - and just a year late.

The systems join existing one- to four-processor Itanium servers in Fujitsu's line, which haven't sold terribly well. In 2003, Fujitsu shipped just two Itanium servers, according to Gartner, and then upped that total to 233 systems in 2004.

Fujitsu also sells Xeon-based servers and a large line of systems based on its version of Sun Microsystems' SPARC processor. Sun and Fujitsu have formed a long-term partnership to develop and sell these SPARC/Solaris boxes together.

Out of the top five server makers, Fujitsu joins HP as the only two vendors to take Itanium terribly seriously. IBM and Dell sell low-end systems and often waver in their support for the 64-bit chip. Fujitsu's boxes will now go up against the high-end Itanium gear from HP, which already has a 64-processor box.

The new servers will only be available with Red Hat Linux until September when Fujitsu will also support SuSE Linux and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition. The higher-end 480 box can hold up to 512GB of memory, 32 hard drives and 16 SCSI ports. The lower-end 440 will support up to 256GB of memory, 16 hard drives and 8 SCSI ports. Fujitsu did not release pricing for the boxes.

There's more information here on some of the higher-end features in these boxes such as partitioning.®

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