[FoRK] Eek! Hardware price/performance hitting another inflection point, I think

Meltsner, Kenneth Kenneth.Meltsner at ca.com
Wed Sep 1 10:50:02 PDT 2004

I track (casually) current server prices and performance since our
products usually have "tiered" licenses ($n for small server, $kn for a
mid-sized, etc.) and the tiering is not a static function of
performance; we don't change tier ratings for a given server model, but
as new servers come out, they might get lower ratings (lower software
cost) even if they're faster than the old boxes.  It's not a great
system, but all pricing schemes have blind spots and problems in my

Just saw an ad that really surprised me: HP (not a white box
manufacturer) is selling a two-blade + enclosure for $9K.  This is
pretty good, since we used to guess $8-10K for the typical low-end
two-processor server.  What impresses me is that each blade is a
dual-Xeon system, instead of being based on Intel's cheaper chip brands.
[Xeon is Intel's "server-class" processor -- more cache, more stuff on
the chip.  They tend to outperform Pentiums by 20-40% at the same clock
speed.]  And as long as they're at it, the base price includes as
standard the features that used to be the equivalent of a car dealer's
"packs": redundant power supply, extra NICs, > minimum RAM, etc., so
they're not trying to sell systems at low advertised prices that require
expensive options to be usable.

I'm sure most FoRK readers could whip together twice the system at half
the cost, but this is a heckuva lot of performance in an IT-friendly
box.    Yes, there's lots of lock-in potential since there are several
unused slots in the blade enclosure, but I think we've just entered a
new period in server price/performance -- I'm sure Dell, IBM, etc. have
or will soon have comparable boxes as well.  It's probably also a boost
for Linux as Windows will look more and more expensive in proportion to
the system cost as this goes on.

Ken "Feeling nostalgic for my VAXStation II" Meltsner

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