Brief History

Client-server systems began to emerge in the United States in the early 1980s, as computing transitioned from large mainframes to distributed computing consisting of multiple workstations or personal computers. Alongside UNIX servers, servers based around PCs with enhanced network functionality began to be sold as well in the second half of the 1990s, eventually developing into PC servers.

PC servers generally ran on either Intel's Pentium CPUs or on IA-32 32-bit processors, such AMD's Opteron. They also added specific server application features — such as RAID disk arrays, hot-pluggable hard disks, and remote management functions — for better system reliability and maintainability. Initially, Novell's NetWare and IBM/Microsoft's OS/2 LAN Server were the operating systems of choice, but from the end of the 1990s onward, usage of Linux, FreeBSD, and other PC UNIX versions became widespread, as they could handle the demands of corporate server applications.

In November 1994, NEC began selling the first domestic PC servers, under the Express 5800 series name, running Microsoft's Windows NT 3.5. Because of its multiprocessor construction, with up to four CPUs, the Express 5800 series enabled IT professionals to build large, high-performance systems. The series included both models running on MIPS Technologies' R4400 RISC processor and models running on Intel's Pentium processors.

In October 1996, Fujitsu launched its GRANPOWER mid-range servers furnished with either Pentium II or Pentium Pro processors. These servers were standard equipped with server monitor modules (SMM), a tool that provided centralized server monitoring functions. Also in October 1996, Toshiba announced the mid-range GS700 model, part of the GS series, which ran on the Pentium Pro. The GS700 featured redundant power-supply units, RAID disks, server monitoring features, and cluster configurability with auto failover functionality.

To get better performance from PC servers, manufacturers not only employed more powerful processors; they shifted to multiprocessor architectures. Hitachi, for one, announced in 1995 the FLORA 3100LP high-end PC server with eight Pentium processors and, in 1998, the HA8000 series of advanced servers with multiprocessing driven by eight Pentium II Xeon processors and a proprietary chipset. In 1999, the company announced the InterStation, the first model of the HA8000-ie series of all-in-one PC servers. The InterStation was packaged in a single deskside cabinet and came with all the functionality to work as an Internet server.

NEC brought out the Express 5800/190D Pro with eight Pentium Pro CPUs in 1998. The Express 5800/190D Pro's transaction processing performance set a world speed record for an eight-processor machine. Toshiba came out with the MAGNIA series of PC servers in 1998 to replace the GS series and released the MAGNIA7010FR in 1999 with the same SFR technology used on the GS700FR to avoid system crashes. In 2000, Fujitsu consolidated its PC server brands under the PRIMERGY brand and announced new models running on Pentium III processors.

PC servers overtook UNIX servers in numbers in the early 1990s and surpassed UNIX servers in monetary value in the early 2000s.