Intel based servers


The first UNIX server based on Intel 386 and marketed in the Bull group was developed circa 1985 by Honeywell in Billerica. At that time, when the rest of the company was focusing on the Motorola 68000, Billerica discussed with Corollary (not yet absorbed by Intel) the use of the 386 and the future 486 for offering multi-processors servers. A prototype of SMP was built, but was not introduced, Honeywell being in the process of being integrated in Groupe Bull.

Low price servers were built from Zenith by integrators but without anything specific from Bull. They were running Xenix or more likely SCO UNIX software. Intel alternative was not seriously considered in the RISC quest by Bull in the early 1990s.

In 1996, Bull started to market Pentium servers designed by NEC the Express 5800 (using the NEC name), but they were considered as Windows/NT servers on a market where the customer's choice was not in conformance the company's strategy.

Later in 1998, when the low-end PowerPC strategy was fledging, Bull considered the port of AIX (originated in IBM) on Express 5800, using for that a "portable version" of AIX named AIX-5L. This was introduced as a product in late 2000 and the customer had a choice of operating system over the same platform.


Intel was attempting to seduce all manufacturers by the P7/Merced offering since the mid-1990s. Eventually, IA-64 was introduced with the microprocessor Itanium. Bull participated with IBM to the project Monterrey (port of AIX on the IA-64 architecture) and the Intel hardware (quad Itanium) and the NEC (octo Itanium) were introduced by Bull as Escala-IL in may 2001. As it was the case for the Express5800, a choice of operating systems is also offered including the Microsoft version of Windows NT for IA-64, AIX and LINUX.

In 2002+, when the successor(s) of the first Itanium project will be available, Bull is planning to announce servers based on the McKinley and Madison Intel chips, incorporating  a Bull designed chip able to interconnect up to 32 and 64 processors. Those systems will be able to be partitioned as separate software servers under their own operating systems.



last revised : 19 février, 2002