Dell axes high-end server

Dell once argued that an eight-processor server was powerful enough for most folks. Now, the company has backed off plans for systems even that size, canceling an Intel partnership in the process.

Dell had been funding Intel to build a chipset to yoke together as many as eight Intel Xeon processors for larger servers that are used for such demanding tasks as housing sales databases. But improvements in smaller two- and four-processor systems outpaced that of eight-processor systems during the "extended time" it took to develop the larger machine, said Neil Hand, a director of product marketing at Dell. "The performance of two- and four-way systems went up at a faster rate than anything else," Hand said. "We don't plan to bring an eight-way Xeon system to market."

Dell isn't abandoning the high-end server market to established server competitors such as Sun Microsystems, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. Instead, it's regrouping by trying to advance the idea of linking smaller machines into the equivalent of a larger multiprocessor machine. In an effort to reach annual revenue of $60 billion, Dell has been expanding into new product areas, and higher-end "enterprise" server and storage equipment has led that plan. But the end of the eight-processor system illustrates the difficulties Dell faces when that effort carries the company beyond its areas of expertise.

"The stuff you can buy that's really a commodity, that doesn't need much vendor support, Dell is great at," said Insight64 analyst Nathan Brookwood. But large servers are a different matter, he added. "I don't think people want to buy systems in that price class from Dell. Maybe someday they will, but right now Dell's strength is in the one-way, two-way, four-way (market), and it drops off really quickly from that."

News source: Zdnet

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