The strictly blade servers vendor will make public its third-generation blade, chassis, and control tower (the ServerBlade 800i, RLX System 100ex and 300ex, and Control Tower Blade 2), and in doing so hopes to divert some of the hype that's been garnished on Compaq's ProLiant BL 10E (AKA QuickBlade) back its way.
Based on a WebBench performance benchmark comparison, RLX claims the ServerBlade 800i is not only the fastest blade server on the market, but that speedwise it also trumps any 1U rackmount server out there.
RLX also claims a 70 percent price/performance advantage over Compaq on a rack-to-rack comparison of the ServerBlade 800i vs. the ProLiant BL 10e based on a fully configured 42U rack from each vendor.
RLX's new server and chassis offer some backward compatibility but not complete ubiquity. The System 300ex will accept both 800i blades and RLX's second-generation 667 blades. The older 1U and 3U chassis, however, will not accept the new blades, as the 800i blades are dependent on the configuration in the new chassis.
The ServerBlade 800i is RLX's first Intel-processor-based blade. The Pentium III CPU moves at an 800 MHz processing speed and offers 512 KB of L2 cache with a single DIMM slot that supports up to 256 MB of memory and 512 MB or 1 GB DDR memory modules. In terms of storage, the ServerBlade 800i comes with up to two 2.5" ATA/66 disk drives that offer 20 GB or 40 GB of disk space. It also comes with three embedded 10/100 Mbps Ethernet connections.
Compaq's BL 10e, in comparison, has a 700 MHz Pentium III processor, up to 1 GB of ECC memory, 30 GB of disk storage, and two 10/100 Ethernet connections.
When benchmarked with WebBench 4.01 using Windows 2000, the ServerBlade 800i with 512 MB of memory and 30 GB of disk capacity processed 3,420 transactions per minute. In contrast, the BL 10e with comparable memory and disk space clocked in at 2,658 transactions per second. RLX believes that 35 percent difference will be a strong selling point for customers evaluating the two products.
Like previous ServerBlades, the 800i will come with Windows 2000 or Red Hat 7.1/7.2 preinstalled. An enterprise can also elect to not have an operating system preinstalled and install its own.
RLX will also unveil its two new chassis on Tuesday: the System 100ex and the System 300ex. The key new feature on the chassis is a Management Network Switch, which offers a dedicated management bus through its integrated switch architecture. The switch is located at the rear of the chassis, and system administrators can set up and configure switch ports, VLANS, and trunking through a single command-line interface.
Unlike the BL 10E, where blade management occurs at the chassis level (and thus must be deployed on every chassis), ServerBlades are managed on a rack basis and require only one Blade Control Tower per rack. Control Tower Blade 2, to be introduced Tuesday, offers remote console support for Windows 2000, system alerts, automatic system chassis discovery and identification, and new user-guided interface access. It is also backward-compatible with blades installed in System 324 and System 1U chassis.
All of these new products are scheduled to ship in late March. RLX will offer two starter packages. The System 300ex Bundle will contain one System 300ex chassis, one RLX Control Tower Blade 2, three RLX Control Tower 2 user licenses, and three RLX ServerBlade 800i blades. The System 100ex Bundle will contain one System 100ex chassis, one RLX Control Tower Blade 2, two RLX Control Tower 2 user licenses, and two RLX ServerBlade 800i blades. Pricing has not yet been set for either package.
RLX will continue to sell and support the Transmeta-processor-based ServerBlade 667. The blade will be positioned as a low-cost, low-power-consumption option. (It consumes 10 to 15 watts per blade vs. the 20 to 25 watts per blade consumed by the ServerBlade 800i).