Bell, Supermicro Partner To Trump Competition

Bell Micro, San Jose, Calif., will support Supermicro's boards and begin using them in custom-manufactured 64-bit-enabled Xeon servers, both companies said.

"We are seeing the customer base looking for more custom value-add to be done," said Joe Cousins, vice president at Bell Micro. "We're known as a storage distributor, so this is an extension of what we're doing."

Supermicro's pact with Bell Micro includes components for custom-built workstations, more.

Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., began shipping 32-bit Xeon processors last year with 64-bit instruction sets. The chips were viewed as competitors to rival Advanced Micro Devices' 64-bit processors, which have been gaining in market acceptance and unit shipments over the past two years. Intel also ships Itanium 2 servers, which can run native 64-bit software and are aimed at the RISC-replacement space in the market rather than the x86 segment.

"I'll say this: We are seeing a demand increase for the higher-performance solutions," Cousins said. That new interest dovetails with Supermicro's product line, he said.

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"What we're most happy about is business like this, where we can provide this type of custom solution."

For its part, Supermicro, also in San Jose, gains another route to market for its highest-end Xeon barebones server offerings. The company's products are compatible with Intel processors but not AMD's. The agreement with Bell Micro also includes components for custom-built workstations.

Earlier this year, Supermicro began shipping Serial-ATA (SATA), 64-bit Xeon servers, with an 800MHz front-side bus and PCI-Express support. The components can be integrated into a SATA-server solution with as much as 1.6 Tbytes of storage capacity.

The reality—or perception—of growing urgency around higher-end platforms continued last week. Intel executives said that during the fourth quarter of 2004, the number of 64-bit enabled units of its Xeon processors outpaced shipments of 32-bit Xeon processors, and the company indicated it expected the trend to continue.