HP Unveils Itanium Servers

Hewlett-Packard has announced a bumper crop of new servers in its Integrity and ProLiant lines aimed at a variety of markets, from the high-performance technical computing market to the company's traditional enterprise computing customers.

The new Integrity servers are based on Intel's Itanium 2 "Madison" family of processors, released in September, and will run in the 1.3-GHz-to-1.5-GHz range. They include a 4-way server called the Integrity Rx4640, an 8-way machine called the Rx7620, and a 16-way midrange system called the Rx8620.

The servers will ship with HP-UX, Linux, or Microsoft Windows Server 2003, says Rich Marcello, HP's senior vice president and general manager of business-critical systems. Support for HP's OpenVMS system will begin in 2004, he says.

Low-End ProLiants

The ProLiant server, called the ProLiant DL140, will be the first in a new line of systems designed to compete with low-cost "white box" servers. It is scheduled to begin shipping in mid-November and will start at $1299, HP says.

"The DL140 is designed for high-performance computing clusters, which typically are a single environment where an application is written to be dispersed across hundreds of these," says Paul Miller, HP's vice president of marketing for industry-standard servers. "Later this year and early next year we'll be rolling out [small to medium-size business] boxes."

"The white boxes have been the price advantage leaders, and what we're able to do with this is give customers the backing of a corporation like HP," Miller adds.

Early next year, HP intends to double the number of processors in its largest Itanium system by announcing a 128-processor server, Marcello says. The company is also developing single-processor and 32-processor systems, which are expected to be announced by April 2004, Marcello says.

Early Customer

Though the 64-bit Itanium processor can run applications written for Intel's 32-bit chips, it performs best running software specially compiled for its own instruction set. To date, the lack of this kind of software support for Itanium has held it back, according to Doug Gray, the director of SAP AG and data warehouse operations with CompUSA.

"We've been waiting for the software side of the world to catch up," Gray says.

But with ports now available for SAP applications, Windows Server 2003, and Microsoft SQL Server, Itanium's software story is improving, Gray adds.

CompUSA is testing HP's Integrity servers on its financial system, which to date has been running on a 32-bit Windows 2000 system. Because the Itanium system can support a much larger amount of system memory--16GB, as opposed to 4GB on the 32-bit system--and has speedier data processing, the company has saved time on its daily analytics.

"Our sales analysis queue takes 14 hours to process. In the 4-way Itanium box, it takes 2 hours," says Robert Lambert, a senior database administrator at CompUSA.

When CompUSA rolls out its production Itanium systems later this year, the company hopes to halve the number of servers it requires, Gray says.

High-End Offerings

Available immediately are the Integrity Rx7620 server, priced at $23,735, and the Rx8620 server, for $62,730. The Rx4640, also available now, will start at $15,869.

Also part of Monday's announcement are two new high-performance cluster systems, the XC6000 and XC3000. The XC6000 is based on the Integrity server, and the XC3000 on the ProLiant. They expand the line HP announced when Intel unveiled the 64-bit CPU.

Pricing for the clustered systems, which will be available in December, will begin at $171,500 for a 34-processor XC3000 cluster.

Laura Rohde of the IDG News Service contributed to this report.

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