Stratus adds dual-core chips to double-redundant systems

Its ftServer 5700 uses two Intel Xeon 2.8-GHz dual-core processors

Stratus Technologies Inc. said today that it would begin shipping a server with dual-core processors that is about half the price of its current high-end system but just as reliable.

The new ftServer 5700 is a dual-chip system that uses Intel Xeon 2.8-GHz dual-core processors. The fault-tolerant server, designed for mission-critical uses such as public safety, will be offered with double redundancy, or double the amount of processors, memory and disks.

Stratus believes users of its high-end ftServer 6600 will eventually move to the new dual-core system. The 6600 is the only Stratus server with triple-redundancy capability, but most of its customers configured it for double redundancy, said Denny Lane, Stratus director for product management. "What we found is our availability on a triple-redundant system is virtually identical to our double-redundant system," he said.

The 6600 is also the only Stratus server that can be configured as a four-processor system, although Lane believes that a dual-core, dual-processor system such as the 5700 can handle workloads that now run on four-chip servers. Stratus uses Windows Enterprise Edition on its servers.

While the Maynard, Mass.-based company believes many 6600 users will migrate to the 5700, it will continue to offer its high-end hardware. Some users, such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, want triple-redundant features, the company said.

The ftServer 5700 sells for about $45,000, while a two-processor 6600 costs about $95,000 for a double-redundant system. The price difference is due in large part to the Intel chip, the high-end Xeon MP, used by Stratus, said Lane. The ftServer 6600 triple-redundancy capabilities meant it often took up more rack space, even if the customer didn't need the extra redundancy, said Lane.

Stratus' main competitor among fault-tolerant systems vendors is Hewlett-Packard Co., which sells the NonStop system originally developed by Tandem Computers. Compaq acquired Tandem in 1997, and HP acquired Compaq in 2002. NonStop is also available as a triple-redundant system.

Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H., said some users still want triple-redundant systems. "It gives you a larger window to fix a problem," he said.

While Stratus and HP overlap in some parts of the fault-tolerant market, Haff believes Stratus isn't going after the very high end of the market. HP has targeted high-end operations with its Itanium-based Integrity systems and its NonStop kernel operating system. For Stratus, "their kind of real pitch is fault tolerance on a budget," he said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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