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NEC Solutions (America) Inc. is unveiling a four-processor, fault-tolerant server designed to bring higher availability to data centers.

The Express5800/340Hb-R, which will be released this week, features redundant components—including processors, motherboards, storage and power units—that run in lock step. If one fails, the second takes over, with no data loss, said officials at the Rancho Cordova, Calif., company.

The system—powered by Intel Corp.’s Xeon MP processors—offers remote management software from NEC and ships with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition.

The 340Hb-R is part of NEC’s strategy to gain a greater foothold in the U.S. server space by offering alternatives to Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. data center systems. The NEC fault-tolerant systems offer several advantages over clustered systems, including a single software license and no performance or data loss in the event of a failover, said Brad Lightner, director of product solutions at NEC. In addition, management of a single system is less complex than a cluster of multiple servers, Lightner said.

IDC says the server market continues its overall growth. Read more here.

NEC will continue adding redundancy to its products, although maybe not to the point of fault tolerance in all of them, Lightner said. For example, the Express5800/1200Ba blade system, unveiled in June, offers redundant switches. Early next year, NEC will release a two-way, fault-tolerant system, officials have said.

NEC is aiming the 340Hb-R at enterprises running mission-critical applications, such as database, ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) software.

The decreasing cost of hardware makes fault-tolerant systems, with their built-in redundant features, more attractive, said Jim Garden, an analyst with Technology Business Research Inc., in Hampton, N.H.

“The cost of hardware is getting so low these days that it makes sense to run parallel or duplicate systems in order to increase the availability of the system,” Garden said.

NEC also is implementing virtual machine technology in the new four-way system.

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