NEC Corporation of America, headquartered in Texas, USA has launched two new fault tolerant servers featuring Intel Xeon processor.
It is a subsidiary of NEC Corporation Japan which provides information technology (IT) and network solutions to business enterprises, communications services providers and government.
According to the firm, the servers Express5800/320Fd-MR and Express5800/320Fd-LR provide improved processing power and maintainability and are designed to simplify server consolidation by supporting virtual operating systems for the first time.
Fault-tolerant design, also known as fail-safe design, is a design that enables a system to continue operation, possibly at a reduced level (also known as graceful degradation), rather than failing completely, when some part of the system fails. The term is most commonly used to describe computer-based systems designed to continue more or less fully operational with, perhaps, a reduction in throughput or an increase in response time in the event of some partial failure. That is, the system as a whole is not stopped due to problems either in the hardware or the software.
NEC’s Fault Tolerant servers deliver exceptional uptime through dual modular hardware redundancy. The main hardware components, including CPU and memory, are replicated to run in lockstep – the two redundant modules process the same instructions at the same time. If any hardware component fails in one module, the faulty component is isolated automatically and processing continues uninterrupted through the other module without downtime or data loss.
According to Marc Hafner, vice president of departmental servers, IT Platform Group, NEC Corporation of America:
The concept of fault tolerant redundancy in hardware components is not new in the industry. However, NEC has been the leading manufacturer of Xeon-based fault tolerant servers since they were first introduced in 2000.
Both Express5800/320Fd-MR and Express5800/320Fd-LR feature quad-core Intel Xeon processors, achieving a 20 per cent performance gain over the existing 320Fc-MR model by utilising the Intel 5400 Series Xeon processors.
Other enhancements have been made in order to support additional operating systems capabilities, such as the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise x64 Edition, allowing higher levels of main memory to be fully utilized.
A significant capability is the additional support for virtual operating systems. This allows multiple guest operating systems to run in a single physical server, simplifying server consolidation and migration from old operating systems. When running virtual operating systems with multiple applications, it’s especially important to utilize Fault Tolerant servers that can significantly reduce the risk of hardware failure.
A key component that enables the fault tolerant capability is the GeminiEngine™, a chipset designed by NEC. It is the heart of lockstep processing in the Express5800 FT servers specially engineered to synchronize the two redundant modules while preventing CPU performance degradation. Hardware redundancy extends even to the connection between NEC’s FT server and storage.
NEC’s experience and long history of FT server production has helped us understand many of the user requirements for redundant hardware server modules. We have designed the NEC FT server to meet the stringent expectations of IT managers.
One feature that addresses these expectations is Active UpgradeTM support of the 320Fd-MR and 320Fd-LR, designed to significantly reduce the planned downtime necessary to install security patches and software upgrades without system reboot. With Active Upgrade™, hot-fix patches and application updates can be applied to one module while the other module continues normal operation.
These servers will be available in the North American market in July 2008.