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SAN DIEGO—Intel, joining an ever-growing crowd of companies touting data storage systems, introduced on April 16 at Storage Networking World here the industry’s first storage server to be based on quad-core processors.

The new rack-mounted Intel Storage Server SSR212MC2 is powered by the quad-core Intel Xeon processor 5300 series and can be configured as a broad range of enterprise and small business storage packages, including NAS (network-attached storage), SAN (storage area network) and application servers.

Since introducing the first quad-core processors in November of 2006, Intel has shipped 12 different server and desktop processors with four processing engines or cores. Intel expanded the line to the embedded market in early April and has now extended it to the for-OEM storage industry.

The Intel Storage Server SSR212MC2 also comes with the option to include one or two Dual-Core Intel Xeon 5100 series processors, as well as a choice of enterprise-class SAS (Serial-Attached SCSI) or high-capacity SATA (Serial ATA) hard drives.

Mike Wall, general manager of the Intel Storage Group in Portland, Ore., said the new quad-core server “has more than twice the performance improvement over our previous product generation. The SSR212MC2 hardware platform provides resellers and integrators [with] a high-performing building block upon which they can build effective solutions.”

Several companies are supporting the SSR212MC2, including Microsoft, FalconStor Software, Open-E, OpenSUSE, Red Hat and Wasabi Systems, a company spokesperson said.

Intel is also working with key hardware vendors, including Emulex and Mellanox Technologies, to enable the use of a broad selection of network connectivity options, such as Fibre Channel and InfiniBand. Intel Pro Dual and Quad Port Server Adapters provide an option for increased bandwidth through bonding of ports, or reliability though failover. The Intel Storage Server SSR212MC2 uses Xyratex’s 2U (3.5-inch) chassis, which delivers power, package and cooling technology.

Click here to read more about Intel’s storage processors.

Although Intel, certainly, is not well-known as a storage server maker, this is the second generation of this product.

“This [server] is its second generation,” David Reinsel, storage analyst at IDC, told eWEEK. “That said, it surely isn’t Intel’s main business. As the enterprise storage industry continues to evolve and capitulate with function and technology, there are opportunities for companies like Intel to offer design platforms, outfitted with Intel components, mind you, that can serve unique and emerging markets … especially the white-box or DIY markets.”

How might these new servers be received by the market—SMB (small and midsize business) and enterprise in general?

“It will be totally dependent on the effectiveness of resellers and system integrators,” Reinsel said. “Again, this platform provides a great base upon which to build very purpose-built solutions, such as video surveillance servers and other niche products. It allows SMBs and other unique enterprise customers to forego the cost of solutions from larger, more sophisticated solutions from established system OEMs, and to instead, design and build their own solution[s].”

Does Intel, well-known as a chip maker but not as established as a storage company, have the name and reputation to sell into the storage server space that is so dominated by longtimers EMC, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Network Appliance?

“Intel isn’t necessarily leveraging its brand with the end customer,” Reinsel said. “Instead, it is leveraging its brand with system integrators or VARs in order to provide a foundation upon which to deliver [or] build a targeted solution. The customer may or may not know [or] care [whether] they are actually purchasing an Intel platform. They are looking at the end solution.”

Pricing for the Intel Storage Server SSR212MC2 starts at $2,800 with no RAID controller and $3,600 with the Intel SRCSAS144e RAID Controller. It is available now from participating Intel channel partners.

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