Hewlett-Packard believes that server blades will be able to rival with traditional tower and rack servers within a few years, and they are planning to expand their server blade range with new Opteron and Itanium-based systems.
HP sold more than 100,000 server blades since early 2002, of which more than 20,000 in the first quarter of this year.
Momentum is building, says James Mouton, VP of the platform division of standard servers for HP.
"This isn't a blip that's going away," he says. "We're committed, and the industry is committed."
One of the newly launched products is the ProLiant BL30p, a doubledense dual-CPU blade server. The double-dense ones are half the size of traditional blades. These are based on Intel Xeon's processors. Double-dense blades based on the Opteron will follow soon, these will feature improved heat dissipation over the Xeon blades.
Although HP had conventional servers based on both Opteron and Itanium processors, it hasn't released any blades based on those architectures. Opteron-based server blades will be introduced in the second half of this year, and Itanium-based blades will follow, although Mouton wouldn't specify a time frame.
According to Gartner research, about 56,000 server blades shipped in the first quarter, putting the segment on a course to ship about a quarter million units this year. Those numbers are small, though, when compared with the approximately 4 million conventional servers expected to be shipped this year.
"It's an emerging market, clearly," Mouton says. "But I think we've begun to pass the early-adopter stage and we're seeing the use spread out. A few years out from now, I think we'll see a good mix of blades, towers, and traditional racks almost equally."
The ProLiant BL30p will be available during this month. Prices start at $2,349. This includes a packaged system with VMware ESX Server and Virtual Center. HP Gold or Platinum support is available with the ProLiant BL20p server, starting at $4,800.