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Turbine's a Fan of Blades

Online gaming company Turbine Inc. is deploying 1000 blade servers in an AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) data center over the coming months to support the launch of its new games.

Internet gaming is big business these days: Analyst firm DFC Intelligence estimates that the worldwide market for online games was worth $1.9 billion in 2003, although this figure is expected to jump to $5.2 billion next year and $9.8 billion by 2009.

Turbine wants its piece of the action. It currently offers two versions of its Asherons Call game via the Internet. These run on 200 rackmounted Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) servers at one of AT&T’s Internet Data Centers in Linwood, Wash. However, Turbine also uses 50 Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) processor-based blade servers, also from Dell, at another AT&T data center in Watertown, just outside Boston. The Watertown facility is used to support Turbine’s day-to-day operations, such as billing.

With the launch of two high-profile games over the next 18 months, Turbine has had to rethink its data center strategy. The company is adding 1000 more Dell blade servers to the Watertown site. Some 400 of these will be used to support Dungeons & Dragons, which will launch later this year, and the remaining 600 will power Lord of the Rings, which will be available in late 2006.

Both the Linwood and Watertown sites rely on Gigabit Ethernet to connect their servers, and the new hardware will bring Turbine’s total server tally to around 1,300 by the end of the year.

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