Hewlett-Packard has become the third major server manufacturer to support Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor, joining IBM and Sun Microsystems as a vendor of the year-old 64-bit processor.
The computer giant plans to add the first two Opteron-based servers to its ProLiant product line in the first half of this year: the 1U (4.4 centimeter) dual-processor DL145, based on AMD's Opteron 200 series processors; and the 4U (17.8cm) four-processor DL585, which will include Opteron 800 series processors, according to HP.
HP is also readying an unnamed two-processor ProLiant blade server, which will begin shipping in the second half of the year, company representatives say.
The DL145 Opteron system can be ordered now and starts shipping in two weeks, according to HP. The company will take orders for the DL585 in approximately 45 days, and it will begin shipping sometime in the second quarter.
HP's Web site on Tuesday offers customers a choice of three Opteron 200 series processors when purchasing the DL145: the 1.6-GHz Opteron 242, the 1.8-GHz Opteron 244, and the 2.2-GHz Opteron 248.
A 1.6-GHz DL145 with 1GB of memory and a 40GB ATA hard drive lists for $1599 on HP's Web site. A 2.2-GHz model, with 2GB of memory and the same amount of hard drive space, lists for $2999.
HP plans to begin offering single- and dual-processor Xeon-based ProLiant servers with Intel's 64-bit extensions this summer, says Scott Stallard, HP's senior vice president and general manager of enterprise storage and servers. Four-way and eight-way servers with the extensions are planned for next year, he says.
Still Supporting Itanium
In the past, HP executives have been cool on Opteron, which has been billed as a competitor to the HP-backed Itanium processor. But during Tuesday's announcement Stallard said Opteron support will actually help HP's Itanium efforts by making low-cost 64-bit processors like Itanium and Opteron available to a wider market.
"Our commitment and plans for Itanium do not change. In fact they're strengthened by the announcement today," Stallard said.
The idea that supporting a rival 64-bit processor might somehow speed up Itanium may be "spin doctoring" on HP's part, but the news will not necessarily hurt HP's Itanium products, says Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata.
After Intel announced last week that it plans to include 64-bit extensions to its Xeon and Prescott processors, it was unavoidable that HP would start selling at least one 64-bit alternative to Itanium, Haff says.
"Obviously with Intel going the x86 extensions route itself, x86 extensions were inevitably going to be an essential element of HP's ProLiant line in the future," Haff says. "At this point, adding Opteron really becomes about adding a second supplier and getting to market a bit faster."