HP stays Itanium course ahead of Intel

Hewlett-Packard Co. this week will introduce an Itanium 2 chip set in a move that takes it another step closer to delivering its first high-end servers based on Intel Corp.'s 64-bit processor architecture.

The company will also detail plans to deliver the HP mx2 "daughter-card" technology that will allow it to combine two Itanium 2 processors and a large memory cache into a one-chip module.

The mx2 technology, code-named Hondo, will allow HP to double the number of processors it can pack into an Itanium server and will deliver better performance for applications that require CPU scalability, said Brian Cox, an HP product manager.

HP's new sx1000 chip set will allow the company to build systems much larger than current Intel chip-set technology permits, Cox said. With it, HP is on track to deliver the first Itanium 2-based 64-processor Superdome server in mid-2003, he added.

Because the sx1000 chip set is compatible with HP's PA-8800 RISC architecture, users will be able to upgrade from RISC to Itanium processors within the same unit. HP's Itanium Superdome systems will be able to run HP-UX, Windows and Linux in the same machine. Next year, the company will add support for the OpenVMS operating system on Itanium servers.

HP's mx2 daughter-card technology, meanwhile, will become available sometime early next year, well in advance of Intel's planned launch of a dual-core Itanium processor in 2005, Cox said.

HP is the only major systems vendor that's likely to ship high-end Itanium servers by year's end, analysts said. "But as co-developer of Itanium, that is only something to be expected from HP," said Terry Shannon, editor of the "Shannon Knows HPC" newsletter in Albuquerque, N.M.

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