The companies are launching new rack, blade and tower servers that incorporate Intel's Xeon 5600 quad-core and six-core processors, as they battle for a larger slice of the server market.
Analysts said the servers will benefit from the new processors, which Intel claims are up to 60 percent faster than the predecessor Xeon 5500 chips introduced last year. The new chips will also offer better performance while consuming less power, which should help reduce electricity bills and facility costs, analysts said.
"It's not a revolution on the server side, it's more of an evolution and the sharpening up of the server vendors aiming at what they believe is the most important things to potential customers," said Dan Olds , principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group.
The performance and power benefits could also help improve server sales, which have been falling since the start of 2009, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. The server upgrade cycle has taken a back seat due to the poor economy but there are signs of an uptick in enterprise spending, McCarron said.
Worldwide server shipments totaled 2.2 million during the fourth quarter of 2009, growing 4.5 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2008, according to IDC. However server revenue dropped by 3.2 percent due to falling prices but revenue from x86 servers, the type of machine introduced now, rose 14.3 percent to $7.6 billion.
Customers are increasingly moving in the direction of virtualisation, and hardware enhancements in the servers, like extra cores, multithreading and more memory channels, creates headway for more virtual machines on servers, McCarron said. Users will be able to throw more workloads to maintain higher server utilisation rates.
That should help consolidate servers, especially in data centres, where virtualisation drives high server utilisation rates, McCarron said.
The reduction of servers and consolidating infrastructure has a trickle effect on data centres, reducing energy and cooling costs, said Krista Satterthwaite, product marketing manager of HP. HP on Tuesday launched 18 Proliant G6, including blade rack and tower servers with Xeon 5600 chips.
Dell said it would offer PowerEdge blade servers (M710, M610), four rack servers (R710, R610, R510, R410) and three tower servers (T710, T610, T410) with Intel's latest chips.
IBM said it would offer two new rack servers, the x3650 M3 and the x3550 M3, and two enterprise tower servers, the x3500 M3 and x3400 M3, with Xeon 5600 processors. IBM also announced the "virtualisation-optimized" BladeCenter HS22V blade server, which the company said could fit 30 percent to 50 percent more virtual machines on a single blade server.
All three companies didn't say how much the servers would cost and only Dell provided a shipping date: Its machines will be available worldwide from next week.
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