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NEC Solutions America is unveiling Feb. 8 a new line of fault-tolerant servers that feature dual-core Intel chip options, greater management capabilities and a more streamlined design.

The Express5800/320Ma, which will be announced Feb. 8 but offered in limited availability in March and general availability in April, will come in three variations—with 3.2GHz or 3.8GHz single-core Xeon chips from Intel, or with 2.8GHz dual-core Xeon processors. Up to 8GB of memory are available on the 3.2GHz version; up to 16GB are available on the other two.

There also are several enhancements aimed at improving manageability and reducing complexity in the design, said Dick Csaplar, product manager for NEC’s fault-tolerant products.

Dual-core Xeons are powering a fault-tolerant Stratus server. Click here to read more.

NEC, of Rancho Cordova, Calif., has reduced the number of modules—or Customer Replaceable Units—from four to two by putting the processor and I/O onto the same module. Fault-tolerant systems offer twin components that work in lockstep, so if one fails, the other one can continue working with no interruption for the user. Having everything on two modules rather than four makes the system less complicated and easier to manage and maintain, Csaplar said.

The new systems also will feature Active Upgrade support as an option, which enables users to load software or upgrade the systems without having to reboot. Customers can virtually split the two modules and upgrade one while the other continues to run. Then the upgrades are copied to the other module, and server rollback capabilities will ensure that the data is protected, Csaplar said. This is important for such functions as hot fixes and security patches, service packs and software upgrades, he said.

NEC officials see cluster computing environments as the top competition for their fault-tolerant servers, and Csaplar said the rolling upgrade capability “was the last thing I had a hard time marketing against clusters.”

In addition, the systems will support Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 and will support Red Hat Linux in the second quarter.

Virtual technician and remote management boards enable such features as video redirection and module redundancy without using additional throughput, an important option for businesses running the servers in remote areas, Csaplar said.

Pricing for the systems will begin at $30,000. They will be available through NEC’s channel partners, Avnet Partners Solutions, Americas and Team 1 Systems. NEC over the past year has changed its distribution model, eliminating its direct sales force in favor of a 100 percent third-party model.

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