NEC will begin shipping blade servers based on Intel's Itanium 2 microprocessor in September, the company revealed yesterday.

The 10U (44.5cm) Express5800/1020Ba Blade system will house as many as nine ultra-thin blade servers, each of which will be capable of housing two processors, 24GB of memory and two SCSI hard drives. The blades will also ship with an Infiniband adaptor from Topspin, the company said.

NEC elected to use Intel's 1.6GHz Madison processors instead of the low-voltage Deerfield chips that Intel has designed for high-density servers, which means that the Express5800/1020Ba will use more power - a full chassis will require over 5 kilowatts of electricity - but will also provide faster performance, according to NEC.

"A pair of Deerfield chips requires 110 watts, and a pair of the Madison 1.6s is 198," said Scott Schweitzer, the product manager for NEC's Itanium server family. "We feel that you're losing quite a bit of performance to save on that power and heat. The value proposition is just not there." The Itanium blades will use a different chassis from NEC's existing Xeon-based blade products, Schweitzer said.

An Express5800/1020Ba chassis, with nine minimally configured blade servers, will be priced starting at $79,000, Schweitzer said. A two-processor blade with 2GB of memory will list for approximately $8,000, he said.