December 20, 1996 5:45 PM ET
CSS, Dell to offer new Pentium Pro servers
By Stephanie LaPolla

  CSS Laboratories Inc. and Dell Computer Corp. are each announcing new Pentium Pro servers next week, but celebrating very different Pentium Pro architectures.

CSS, with its MS6862, is trying to relieve fault tolerance and cluster roadblocks for users daunted by the prospect of adding more hardware and power to limited LAN space. To achieve this means alternatives beyond conventional servers based on Intel motherboards.

CSS' MS6862, due in February, is designed with a PCI passive backplane that can be segmented into four parts to accommodate up to four separate Intel Corp.'s Pentium Pro processor servers in one chassis. Each segment is powered by a dual Pentium Pro SBC (Single-Board Computer), officials said.

The SBCs can run separate applications and separate operating systems, including Windows NT, NetWare, OS/2 or Unix. Or the modules can work in a unified cluster, said company officials in Irvine, Calif.

The MS6862 supports 180MHz or 266MHz clock speeds and up to 1G byte of on-board memory, and includes an on-board parallel port and two serial ports. There are 20 I/O slots that can be segmented into one, two or four groups in supporting PCI or ISA, officials said.

Two servers in one chassis can be mirrored using Vinca Corp.'s StandbyServer software, or via Novell Inc.'s SFT 3. CSS will also support WolfPack for Windows NT clusters when it becomes available next year, said officials.

The MS6862 will ship in February, priced between $5,000 and $30,000. A board upgrade costs $3,440.

Current CSS customers praise the company's ability to deliver a sturdy product. "The system is reliable, and CSS provides us with good service and a point of contact if we have a problem," said Debbie Nolan, marketing director at Digital Voice Inc., in Joplin, Mo. "Fault tolerance [through] the hot-swap drive bays has been good for our use in the hospital medical environment."

Separately, Dell is bundling its entry-level PowerEdge 2100 server with 3Com Corp.'s OfficeConnect hub, to help ease administrators' networking installation headaches.

Dell's new PowerEdge bundle, priced from $3,948, is available now, according to officials in Austin, Texas. The server includes a 180MHz Pentium Pro, 32M bytes of memory, a 2G-byte hard drive, 3Com's 3C595 Fast EtherLink 10/100 PCI network interface card, 3Com's OfficeConnect Hub/8TPC and NT 4.0.

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