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Network Engines Revamps Web Appliance

Server appliances are proving to be a hot market for server vendors, but Network Engines Corp. has focused on making its products cooler. Today Network Engines unveiled its flagship WebEngine, featuring faster processors and a new cooling system.

WebEngine Sierra is designed as a commodity Web server sitting at the edge of the network, serving up Web presentations. Network Engines bills Sierra and its other appliance servers as “plug-and-play” solutions designed for quick implementation and a minimum of configuration.

The new server appliance is a 1U rackmount server, featuring dual 1-GHz Pentium IIIs and up to 4GB of RAM. Users can hot-swap its four SCSI hard drives, and configure them for RAID level 0, 1, 3, and 5.

Network Engines expects that its users will mount up to 42 of its server appliances in a single rack. With up to 84 gigahertz Pentiums in a tight space heat becomes a significant problem, so the company designed the unit with cooling in mind. The box features hot-swappable fans - if a fan fails, users can open the chassis and replace a fan while the server stays up.

In addition, Network Engines appropriated technology from the laptop world to enhance its cooling ability. Sierra features heat pumps, copper tubes with a circulating liquid to dissipate heat. Rick Friedman, vice president of marketing at Network Engines says that heat pumps cool more efficiently than traditional heat sinks. He believes that Network Engines is currently the only company to implement heat pumps in a server.

Sierra features a pre-configured webserver and a web-based management console. Network Engines also offers a management appliance, AdminEngine, which can monitor and manage up to 255 appliances as a single cluster. Users can also configure Sierra via pushbuttons and an LCD screen on the front of the unit.

While some companies are touting the Transmeta Crusoe processor as an ideal solution for creating low power, low heat servers, Friedman says that Network Engines is taking a wait and see attitude toward Crusoe. “If there’s an advantage with those processors, we’ll use those processors,” he says, noting that Crusoe currently runs slower than Intel and AMD processors. He wonders if Crusoe can match the speed of the Pentium and Athlon and still generate less heat. – Christopher McConnell

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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