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Blades on parade

One of the big advantages of conference-style learning is the ability to see, touch and ask questions interactively. Like, "How do these blade servers look and work, anyway?"

Bladesposter That's the question I asked HP at the latest Technology Forum. A movie of a couple of minutes gives a rundown on HP's latest blade servers, as well as a tour at the C7000 enclosure the blades need to operate. Have a look at the two minute blade demo movie from the HP booth on the Expo floor.

The cinematography on this movie won't rival The Fall, (excellent film, that one; go see it soon on the big screen.). Unlike The Fall, which will have a really brief run in theatres, blades are going to be playing for a long time at HP. Your vendor hopes they will play a part in your transition away from the HP 3000 hardware.

In the old days, HP 3000 sites would call these racked servers. But they were a lot heavier, larger, noisier and hotter, and oh yeah, they drew more power. HP actually called servers built on the PCI and PA-RISC hardware "hot servers" when I spoke to the vendor at the conference.

Nothing's perfect about any solution, of course. The blade servers only use the Intel chipset — that is, the Xeon-like successor to the x86 "Wintel" line, or the Itanium chips, also available in your vendor's Integrity business server line. And neither of these chips will run MPE/iX. Not yet, to be accurate — because the emulator projects for HP 3000 hardware could, within several years, shave down the size of an HP 3000 to the size of one of these blades.

There's a lot of engineering and testing to be done to call blades a homestead option yet. Today, they represent a new server form factor that HP is using to cut a bigger share of the server market.