HP fills out Itanium line

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) on Monday announced a bumper crop of new servers in its Integrity and ProLiant ranges aimed at a variety of markets, from the high-performance technical computing market to its traditional enterprise computing customers.

The new Integrity servers will be based on Intel's Itanium 2 "Madison" family of processors and will run in the 1.3GHz-to-1.5GHz range. There will be 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 Corp.'s Windows Server 2003, said 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 said.

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.

"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," said Paul Miller, HP's vice president of marketing for industry standard servers. "Later this year and early next year we'll be rolling out SMB (small-to-medium business) boxes in the SMB space to complement this."

"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," he added.

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

Though the 64-bit Itanium processor can run applications written for Intel's 32-bit chips, it performs best running software that has been 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 Inc. "We've been waiting for the software side of the world to catch up," he said.

But with ports now available for SAP applications, Windows Server2003, and Microsoft SQL Server, Itanium's software story is improving, Gray said.

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 system memory -- 16G bytes, as opposed to 4G bytes on the 32-bit system -- and has speedier data processing, the company has been able to save time on its daily analytics.

"Our sales analysis queue takes 14 hours to process. In the 4-way Itanium box, it takes two hours," said 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 said.

Also part of Monday's announcement are two new high-performance cluster systems, the XC6000 and XC3000, which are based on Integrity and ProLiant servers, respectively.

The rx7620 and rx8620 servers will be available immediately, priced starting at US$23,735 and US$62,730, respectively. The rx4640, also available now, will start at US$15,869.

HP's DL140 will begin shipping in mid-November, HP said, and will start at US$1,299. Pricing for the clustered systems, which will be available in December, will begin at US$171,500 for a 34-processor XC3000 cluster.

(Laura Rohde in London contributed to this report.)

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