HP Claims a First with Six-Way Pentium Servers

SAN FRANCISCO (03/03/2000) - Hewlett-Packard Co. will crank up the heat in the hotly contested high-volume server market Monday with the release of two new NetServers that can incorporate up to six Pentium III Xeon processors, company officials said.

HP claims to be the first manufacturer to offer a six-way server -- vendors traditionally make the jump from four processors to eight. The computer vendor said the systems should prove popular with customers looking for a powerful server with headroom to expand their businesses and who don't want to spring for a pricier, eight-way system.

The new servers, called the LH 6000 and LT 6000r, also tap into a growing trend among businesses looking to consolidate smaller servers as a way to reduce management costs and boost operational efficiencies, said Brad Day, a vice president with market research company Giga Information Group Inc., based in Norwell, Massachusetts.

The servers could also give HP an important boost in the competitive SHV (standard high-volume) server market against rivals such as Compaq Computer Corp., IBM Corp. and Dell Computer Corp., Day added.

HP said the servers are suitable for running important, storage-intensive enterprise applications including transaction processing for e-commerce sites, ERP (enterprise resource planning) and messaging as well as acting as Web servers. A six-way server could support Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange groupware software for up to 1,000 users, according to HP officials.

For a typical four-way configuration, the servers will be priced at about US$25,000 -- around the same price as HP's current four-way NetServers, the LH4 and LH4r. Adding an additional two processors will cost customers around $5,000 more, said Marisela Blasini Young, product marketing manager with HP's network server group.

The additional two processors yield a performance boost of 30 percent over 4-way servers from HP and its rivals, according to the results of a standard TCP-C benchmark test that HP will publish shortly.

The new servers, which are due to become available worldwide Monday, will eventually replace the LH4 and LH4r models, HP officials said. The company plans to market the systems as four-way servers and emphasize their ability to scale up to six processors for customers who want the extra computing power, Young said. HP wouldn't offer a timetable for phasing out its LH servers; the vendor said it will offer them as long as demand exists.

HP hopes the new systems will enlarge the company's share of the fast-growing quad-server market. About 415,000 four-way servers will be sold in 2001, up from about 258,000 systems that will ship in 2000, according to estimates from market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), based in Framingham.

"This market represents the heart of the revenue generation for most of the PC server manufacturers, not only because of the price, but because of the high number of accessories sold with them," HP's Young said.

If HP's servers prove successful, its rivals will likely feel pressure to follow suit in offering six-way machines. The six-way systems don't depend on any proprietary technology from HP and other hardware makers could mimic the basic six-way design, said Chris Bennett, an HP product manager. The six-way configuration is made possible by an innovative chipset from ServerWorks Inc., he added.

The LH 6000 includes up to 8G bytes of PC 133MHz SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory), eight 64-bit I/O (input/output) slots, a maximum of 12 internal Ultra2 SCSI drives and supports up to 216 G bytes of main memory. The system also ships with a new HP NetRAID controller that the company claims performs better than its current standalone product.

The LH 6000r is similarly configured, but comes with less storage capacity for customers who want to rack servers together and use an external storage system.

The system has a rack density of 4U, which allows up to 10 servers to be stacked up in a two-meter rack, HP officials said.

"If the customer wants a self-contained unit, he'll go with the LH 6000. If he's riding the external storage trend, he'll go with the (LH 6000r)," HP's Bennett said.

For customers who buy the servers through its Select Express program, HP is offering an aggressive rebate program. Customers who buy a six-processor system in April, May or June will receive a rebate for the cost of the additional two processors, HP said.

HP, based in Palo Alto, California, can be reached at +1-650-857-1501 or at http://www.hp.com/.

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