HP updates Integrity line with dual-core Itanium

HP Thursday introduced two servers and announced a refresh of its entire Integrity server line with the first dual-core Itanium processor, a chip that promises better performance, improved energy efficiency and advanced features such as hardware-based virtualization.

In addition to updating its existing systems, HP is announcing two new servers: the 7U rx6600, with up to four dual-core Itanium processors, and the 4U rx3600, with up to two dual-core Itanium processors. The systems, available for order now, start at about US$14,700 for the rx6600 and at around US$10,500 for the rx3600.

The servers include HP's zx2 chipset, which enables the dual-core processors to provide twice the performance while reducing energy consumption by about half, compared to existing Itanium-based systems, HP executives say.

The servers support a range of operating systems, including HP-UX 11i, Windows, Linux and OpenVMS. In addition, HP plans to extend its virtualization software for Integrity - now limited to HP-UX - to Windows later this year, enabling customers to run multiple operating systems in virtual machines on a single physical processor. Support for Linux in the Integrity virtualization software is expected in 2007.

The updated systems with increased performance and capacity, thanks to the new "Montecito" Itanium, would be best used as platforms for consolidating important business workloads such as business intelligence, databases and ERP, HP executives say.

"With these servers we're providing mainframe-caliber availability in smaller packages and at competitive price points," says Joe Nadler, vice president of business-critical servers and high-performance computing at HP.

HP is hoping the invigorated platform will help spur sales of Itanium servers. Today, HP is the only major systems vendor to offer Itanium-based servers; Dell and IBM both scrapped their Itanium lines in recent years.

While Itanium targets higher-end, business-critical workloads that run on Unix, industry experts say that lower-end 32/64-bit platforms haven't helped Itanium's fortunes. Still, even though Itanium hasn't become the de facto platform for industry-standard 64-bit computing as Intel and co-developer HP had hoped, its progress has been steady, analysts say.

There is growing ISV support, for example, a key factor in any server platform's success. BEA, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have all committed to supporting Itanium. In all, HP's Integrity servers offer customers support for more than 9,000 applications across a range of industries, Nadler says.

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