Dell introduced two new four-processor PowerEdge servers, along with software and services designed to help users build data centres with the new hardware, the company said.

The servers will use Intel Corp.'s Truland platform, which brings new technologies such as the PCI Express interconnect technology, 64-bit capabilities, a 667MHz front-side bus and support for DDR2 memory to multiprocessor servers using the E8500 chipset. These features are available on PCs and low-end servers, but Intel tends to gradually introduce upgrades to server technology because of the long process of testing and validating new chips and chipsets for enterprise servers.

Truland also contains new Xeon MP processors, with customers having the choice of a Xeon MP processor with 8M bytes of Level 3 cache or another Xeon MP processor with less cache but a faster clock speed, said Jeff Clarke, senior vice president of Dell's product group. If a user wants the new servers to run large databases, they would be better off with the large-cache processor, while the faster processor is better suited for applications that require raw processing speed, he said.

Since Intel hasn't officially unveiled the Truland platform yet, Dell was unable to provide specifics on the processors that will come with the new systems, or the specific dates the servers will be available to order. Both servers will be available in the coming weeks, Clarke said. Intel is expected to unveil the Truland platform and the new Xeon MP processors next week.

The PowerEdge 6800 costs US$3,999 and the PowerEdge 6850 costs $4,899. Both servers come with 1G byte of DDR2 memory, with room for up to 64GB of memory and up to 3.6TB of storage capacity. The 6800 is a 6U (10.5 inches) tower server that can be placed in a rack, while the 4U 6850 was designed specifically for rack configurations and is available with an optional dual-port Fibre Channel daughtercard, Clarke said.

The servers will be available initially only with 32-bit versions of operating systems such as Microsoft's Windows, Red Hat Linux and Novell's Suse Linux. Dell will ship the servers with 64-bit operating systems that can take advantage of the 64-bit Xeon processors later this year, Clarke said. Red Hat will have a new version of its operating system out in June, and Microsoft is expected to unveil the 64-bit version of Windows in April.

Dell is working with companies like Intel and Oracle to test and optimise the new servers for grid-computing applications. Grid computing is an emerging computing architecture that creates large networks of servers and allows users to assign processing power to specific tasks as needed.

The Round Rock, Texas, company also introduced the latest version of its Dell OpenManage software and a new assessment service. The new OpenManage 4.3 product allows IT managers to quickly and easily update the BIOS and firmware on their servers, Clarke said.

Customers who purchase the Data Center Environment Assessment service will receive a visit from Dell engineers who will help companies design their data centres for maximum efficiency. Modern data centres require sophisticated cooling and power delivery technologies, and Dell can help companies that do not have the in-house expertise to design a proper environment, Clarke said.

Pricing for the service starts at $5,000 for a 200 square foot (18.6 square meters) data centre, and increases from there. Dell will work with customers who have between 200 to 10,000 square feet of data centre space, Clarke said.