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By | Andrew Orlowski 15th July 2009 10:32

Blade pioneer dies

Chris Hipp, RIP

We're very saddened to hear of the death of Reg friend Chris Hipp, who has died suddenly aged 49.

A competitive cyclist who used to race with Lance Armstrong, Chris turned his boundless energy and curiosity to the computer business a decade ago. Seeing the potential of using low-power laptop chips to create high-density computing clusters, he founded RLX Technologies in Texas in 1999. RLX's first hardware used Transmeta Crusoe processors and introduced a new metric for the industry, "performance per square foot".

Chris Hipp

RLX's first offering in 2001 packed 336 processors into a 42U cabinet - around eight times the density of the standard one or two-CPU 1U rack. Many veterans of big iron scorned the initiative, but Intel, Dell, and HP saw the threat, and the potential of the idea.

Although Hipp left RLX before it was finally sold to Hewlett Packard in 2002, his vision has been vindicated. Google's vast data centres are powered by disposable high-density racks, part of a move towards lower power, higher density components.

Chris devoted more time to his main passion, cycling, but continued as a technology chair and advisor to the Blade Systems Alliance. He was a regular guest on our Semi Coherent Computing podcasts, and you can hear an hour of him here from 2007.

He leaves many friends, not just in the cycling community but beyond - he was close friends with Clash bassist Paul Simonon - and he'll be greatly missed.

Chris' home page is here, with a biography here. Some early tributes from the cycling community have been rounded up here. ®

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