New RLX blades sharpen memory

The pioneer in the 'blade' technique--stacking servers as densely as possible to save floor space--releases a faster model with more than twice the memory of the previous version.

RLX Technologies, a pioneer in the "blade" technique to stack servers as densely as possible, has released a faster model with more than twice the memory of the previous version.

RLX uses CPUs from Transmeta, which builds Intel-compatible chips that consume minimum electricity and thus produce little heat--the bugaboo of high server density. One of the constraints of Transmeta systems has been a maximum memory capacity of 512MB.

But an improved memory subsystem allows the new RLX 667 blades to accommodate 1.125GB, RLX said. Of that, 128MB is higher-speed double data rate (DDR) memory. The new blade, which starts at $1,199, uses a 667MHz Transmeta Crusoe chip, compared with a 633MHz model in earlier blades.

RLX, which is based in The Woodlands, Texas, makes computers built onto a single thin electronics card called a blade; stacking these side by side in a single enclosure means lower-end servers can be packed densely to save floor space.

RLX and Transmeta have been ahead of the game in blade servers but face an onslaught of competition. Hewlett-Packard has released its "Powerbar" blade designs, and Compaq Computer will unleash its QuickBlade systems in early 2002. IBM, Sun Microsystems and Dell Computer also have designs coming.

RLX has two enclosures for the blades: a 5.25-inch-thick model that accommodates 24 blades and a 1.57-inch model with six blades.

The most widely accepted application for the systems is sending Web pages to browsers across the Internet, but RLX is trying to push the systems for supercomputing as well. One customer is Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, which is using the new RLX blades in its Radiant program to marry networking and supercomputers.

Also on Tuesday, RLX announced a deal to integrate and jointly market products with Ensim, which sells software for automating the operation of data centers.

The partnership includes use of RLX's new Control Tower blade, which is used to monitor and control server blades or distribute software to them. The Control Tower blade costs $1,799 and can control blades running Windows 2000 or Red Hat's version of Linux.


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