HP announces next generation PA chips
So exactly when is it going to migrate to IA-64, anyway?
Last year Hewlett-Packard was giving every impression of betting the farm on Wintel, but its semiconductor plans, announced yesterday at the Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, and also earlier this week, make it clear that HP hasn't any intention of actually putting its money on the table until sometime in the dim and distant future. The company is already engaged in the implementation of an NT-based enterprise network strategy, so in the fullness of time its own PA-Risc architecture and HP-UX Unix ought to be for the chop. The demise of PA is a certainty (but hardly a racing one), while an HP-UX phase-out falls more into the territory of a logical consequence that could easily become less logical as the years roll by. It's obviously logical to HP's Intel enterprise people, but scarcely so to the Unix guys. Yesterday HP gave PA a shot in the arm by outlining plans for an 8900 chip with a 1.2GHz clock speed, and the continuation of the architecture through until 2003. PA customers are intended to eventually migrate to IA-64 via HP's joint development deal with Intel, but PA public roadmaps currently extend beyond Intel's public IA-64 ones. Basically, HP can espouse IA-64 as an ultimate goal all it likes, without having to do anything about it until we're all dead. The company's plans and Intel's roadmaps don't altogether gel at the moment. Continued support and development for PA is necessary, because Intel doesn't scale enough for the purposes of HP's big corporate customers. Tellingly, when HP itself specified and installed the systems for the World Cup earlier this year, practically all of the crunching was done on PA, with Wintel handling the productivity stuff, mostly. Some migration… The roadmaps Intel showed last week meanwhile confirmed that the company is going to squeeze a lot more out of IA-32 before it goes fully 64, and that it'll do this more likely via the McKinley chip rather than Merced. So HP's planned early lead in IA-64 Merced servers next year may turn out to be of little consequence, and HP's customers will quietly refrain from migration from PA in that cycle. The efforts to include PA binary compatibility in IA-64 meanwhile mean that HP-UX customers ought to be able to shift platforms without too much trouble when IA-64 boxes have enough beef to attract them - but when will that be? And will NT still exist by then? ® Click for more stories