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Server Power Play

They may not have the recognizable brand of an IBM or Hewlett-Packard, but a cadre of second-tier vendors and system builders believe they can carve out a larger share of the market by developing innovative server designs that pack extra computing power into compact spaces.

The new server options include a 1U rack server that houses two full systems, 1U rack systems that can wedge in four add-in cards for specialized needs, and a "personal" cluster scaled down to a typical tower configuration.

These new models—aimed at the Web and high-performance computing markets—highlight a growing trend among system builders to couple power and cooling know-how with more efficient processors. These system builders are helping customers make the most out of their space in a data center while at the same time differentiating themselves from the typical rack servers and blades offered by top-tier vendors.

The Gemini series of servers from Open Source Systems, a San Jose, Calif.-based system builder, house two distinct two-socket systems in a 1U or 2U rack chassis. "Our competitors can't deliver two systems in 1U," said Eren Niazi, president of OSS. The company is using industry-standard parts for both models, and the units are cooled from front to back to comply with data center standards, he said.

Though customers focusing on server consolidation and some types of virtualization may lean toward larger four-socket systems, Niazi said some customers will find distinct benefits to OSS' two-system configuration. Among them are high-availability capabilities. Customers can run two mirrored servers simultaneously, and instead of having to maintain two servers in separate chassis, each coexists together in one unit.