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64-Bit Blades Battle

After Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) jumped back into the blade server market with plans for a slimmed-down blade last week, rival vendors Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) told Next-gen Data Center Forum of their own plans to boost blade performance with 64-bit Opteron chips from Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD).

A spokeswoman for Sun confirmed that the company will be delivering Opteron-based blades at some point in the future, although she refused to provide a specific time-frame. HP, however, was more forthcoming, confirming that it will be offering Opteron-based blades by the end of this year.

An HP official added that the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor will be shipping blades with Intel Corp.s (Nasdaq: INTC) 64-bit Itanium processor by mid-2005. He also promised new management software on HP’s blade server range by late summer or early fall of 2004.

Processor speed is currently one of the highest priorities for users, particularly in areas such as high-performance computing. Although she was unwilling to divulge any performance specifics, the Sun official confirmed that the new blade offerings will boast a faster processor than the vendor’s current UltraSparc and X-86 processor-based offerings.

A key element of the Opteron processor is its memory controller, which enables the chip to quickly move data in and out of the server’s main memory.

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