Littleton, MA —Compaq says its new Alphaserver GS series of enterprise level servers will compete against high-end machines from Sun, HP, and IBM. The battleground is seven markets: e-commerce/Internet, telecommunications, high-performance technical computing, business intelligence and e-applications, finance, healthcare, and government. Specific applications using Alpha-servers include: decoding the human genome, wireless telecom design, and web-based customer support and purchasing.
Why does Compaq think it can win this war? The company boasts it has applied for 50 patents on the system, code-named Wildfire. They include three main technological innovations, says Dave Fenwick, principle member of technical staff, business critical server division:
hierarchical switch-based architecture (using NUMA, Nearly Uniform Memory Architecture)
online maintenance and upgrades
dynamic partitions and workload management (for both software and hardware, so up to eight sessions of a UNIX OS can run simultaneously on the GS 320)
The systems use Compaq's Alpha EV67 microprocessor, linked in groups of 8, 16, or 32. It's this scalability that allows competitive pricing and flexible applications, Compaq says (prices start below $100,000 for the eight-way version, and reach $2 million for the 32-way). The systems consist of between one and eight modular building blocks, each offering support for four processors, up to 32 GB memory, and a high-bandwidth global port.
That horsepower is crucial for handling the unpredictable traffic patterns of Internet and telecommunications applications. And the system allows hot swap and hot add of components, for scalability on the fly.
Wildfire is designed to be a robust system, so it can be used with 24/7 e-commerce applications, says Marion Dancy, VP of marketing for the high performance server business unit. In fact, Compaq guarantees 99.99% availability when Wildfire is used with the Tru64™UNIX,OpenVMS™, or Linux operating systems, she says.