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NEC and Stratus in fault-tolerant server threesome

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NEC and Stratus promised you new, beefy fault tolerant servers would ship in June. But the boxes ended up shipping in July. We'll forgive the vendors a wee, one-month lapse, especially since they've tossed out some new, low-end additions as well.

As of this week, customers will find a two-socket box centered on Intel's quad-core Xeon 5300 (Clovertown) chip. NEC and Stratus share their fault-tolerant server work thanks to a deal announced in late 2005, so you'll see the same basic box sold as the NEC Express 5800/320Fc and Stratus ftServer 6200 systems. Neither company has a particular gift for product names.

The Xeons inside these servers run at 2.66GHz and have a pair of 4MB Level2 caches. The FSB checks in at 1333MHz. You can fit up to 24GB of memory, 6 PCI-X (or 2 PCI-Express and 4 PCI-X) slots, 6 and SAS or SATA disks in the boxes.

Of course, you need to divide all those goodies in two, since the fault-tolerant design links two physical servers together via main memory. You end up with a single, logical server that runs duplicate copies of the OS and software. If one side of the system fails, no worries. The other side picks up the slack without transaction loss.

Both companies support Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition (32-bit). Stratus says that 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 support will arrive in September.

On the low end, you'll now find NEC hawking the Express 5800/320Fc-LR (Seriously, guys?-Ed), and Stratus selling the ftServer 2500. This is a single-socket box with a dual-core Xeon 3100 series chip running at 2GHz. This system supports up to 6GB of memory, 6 PCI-X (or 2 PCI-Express and 4 PCI-X) slots and 6 SAS or SATA disks.

There's also a beefier, mid-level box available in the form of NEC's Express 5800/320Fc-MR and Stratus' ftServer 4400. This time around, you'll find a one- to two-socket unit with the same 2GHz Xeons. This system supports up to 12GB of memory and has room for all the same goodies as the other two systems.

These smaller systems support the same operating systems, although the ftServer 2500 won't ship until Linux support is ready in September and will then get Windows support in mid-October. The other two systems are available immediately with Windows.

The lowest end box starts around $15,000, the midrange system starts around $23,000 and the big daddy starts at around $45,000. As you all know, however, list prices mean diddly-squat and prices will vary by a wide margin based on different configurations. NEC and Stratus also have their own ideas on base configurations.

While they share hardware and related costs, NEC and Stratus work to separate themselves via different management and application packages. The fault-tolerant gear usually makes it way to banks, stock exchanges, emergency call centers and the like. ®

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