Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi have both enhanced their blade server ranges. Hitachi has upgraded its with the latest Intel chips, while HP has combined blades to create a specially configured appliance that can handle demanding data-warehouse workloads.

HP's BladeSystem for Oracle Optimized Warehouse includes existing HP blade servers and chassis, and is configured to boost database performance and provide faster response times on Oracle's databases. Though Oracle is a longtime partner, this is the first time HP has worked with Oracle to design data-warehousing hardware.

Customers can start using the appliance straight out of the box and create a data warehouse in hours instead of weeks, according to Rich Ghiossi, director of business intelligence portfolio marketing at HP.

The preconfigured appliance comes with four HP BladeSystem c7000 chassis, which run HP ProLiant BL460c and ProLiant BL465c blade servers. The servers support Intel Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors, with each chassis capable of storing up to 1TB of data. The appliance runs the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 OS and Oracle Database Enterprise Edition 10G.

It will be available worldwide through HP distributors including Avnet. The partners will determine exact pricing, but prices could start in the $400,000 (£200,000) range, Ghiossi said.

Hitachi also upgraded its blade servers to support Intel's latest chips. The servers perform 25 percent better than their predecessors and reduce power consumption by up to 30 percent, according to Hitachi.

The upgraded BladeSymphony 1000, a high-end blade server, will use dual-core models of Intel's Itanium 9100 series processors, as well as versions running dual-core Xeon 5200 processors and quad-core Xeon 5400 processors.

The upgraded BladeSymphony 320 will also support the new Intel Xeon chips. The system can pack up to 560 cores into a 42U rack, according to the company. Both the blades support Windows and Linux OSes. Pricing for the updated servers was not immediately available.