Compaq Shakes Up Server Line

In a bid to strengthen its position as a supplier of E-commerce platforms, Compaq Computer is shaking up its server product line with the release today of a new series of Intel-based Proliant servers.

Among the new product lineup is a thin server, dubbed the DL380, that can accommodate up to two 733-MHz Pentium III processors. It uses an RCC chipset that affords a front-side bus speed of 133 MHz and has room for up to four 1-inch-wide Ultra2 SCSI hard drives. Prices for the DL380 start at $4,886, not including hard drives. The DL380 will replace the Proliant 1850R in Compaq's thin server product mix. Later this year, Compaq will add a system called Photon--a two-way, thin server--to the Proliant DL line.

Compaq is also introducing this week a new line of floor-standing or rack-mounted servers, called Proliant ML, which includes three systems-the ML350, the ML370, and the ML530. The ML350 uses up to two 600-MHz or 733-MHz Pentium III processors, the ML370 offers up to two 667-MHz or 733-MHz Pentium III chips, and the ML530--also a two-way system--uses Intel's 800-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor. It also features 12 hot-pluggable hard-drive bays. Prices start at $2,272, $3,400, and $5,340 respectively, not including drives. The ML530 replaces the Proliant 3000, the ML370 replaces the Proliant 1600, while the ML350 is replacing the Proliant 800 and the Prosignia 740.

As for operating systems, Tom Lattin, Compaq's director of strategy and business development, says the company will support Windows NT and 2000, Novell Netware, SCO Unix, and Linux on all its new servers. Of the latter, Lattin says, "It will be a small part of initial shipments, but we expect that to grow over time."

Compaq officials say they hope the new server lineup will give the company a stronger presence in the E-business market, which of late has become the prize target for virtually every major server manufacturer. "We'll challenge the more costly proprietary systems from companies like Sun," says Brad Anderson, Compaq's VP for small and medium business servers. Analysts say the new products will help Compaq maintain its position as the nation's top seller of PC servers. Says Ashok Kumar, an analyst with US Bancorp Piper Jaffray: "The server business is still their forte."

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