Stratus Technologies, traditionally a proprietary, RISC-based server manufacturer, has launched its first Intel-based servers. While sticking with the company's high-end, five nines uptime philosophy, the new ftServer V series is Stratus' first set of Intel-based server products. At the launch, Stratus' senior consultant Paul Green emphasised to existing customers that it plans to support its PA-RISC-based line of products - dubbed Continuum - for the foreseeable future.

Customers present at the launch included major banks, public bodies and utilities, all of whom, said Stratus, have applications that require no more than five minutes' unplanned downtime per year.

The two-strong range of Xeon-based servers, the V200 and V400, offers 1.7 to four times the processing power of its Continuum range, said Green, using a pair of 1.6GHz and quad 2.8GHz processors respectively. The additional processing power available from the IA32 architecture was, said Green, a sizeable element of the company's decision to move over to Intel, as was the 30 per cent lower price point the move enabled. The impending doom of HP's PA-RISC architecture is also likely to have been a considerable spur.

Stratus sells its hardware as a specialist in continuous computing. As a result, it's keen to reassure existing customers that their investment is safe, especially the efforts users have made to build applications on its proprietary OS, VOS. "Our aim is to protect investment", said Green. "That's because the cost of upgrading your hardware platform is 10 per cent of the cost of getting off the old hardware platform, because of the costs of things like retraining and replacing software."

So Stratus has ported VOS over to IA32, and said that custom applications need only to be recompiled in order to run on the new version, numbered 15.0. "The compiler takes care of the big-endian to little-endian issues", Green said. "It's the same stuff, we want it to be just a recompile, often it's not even that. Our mantra is compile, test, go."

Green also said that existing storage systems could be ported easily using what he called 'castornet'. "You roll the disk cabinet over from the old server to the new one and plug it in", he said.

Benefits of the V series, according to Green, include more modern, cost-effective hardware, added performance over the company's existing 1252 model, and added I/O support.

Chassis-based, the core I/O board sits next to the CPU board and carries a 32-bit PCI and two 64-bit PCI slots. It also connects to console, and provides 10/100/1000 Ethernet and other connectivity. An optional expansion I/O board is available to add three 66MHz 64-bit PCI slots.

In terms of storage, Stratus offers a JBOD enclosure with a maximum of 252 Fibre Channel-hosted drives storing 15TB. Stratus offers a new 36MB/s SDLT tape system for backup with a drive, and a second available as an option. Green said the company was planning to launch an autoloader.

Prices weren't mentioned but Stratus is in the "if you have to ask…" market. One estimate was that an entry-level system would cost upwards of £150,000.