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HP fills out in the mid-range

Features culled from Superdome

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Hewlett-Packard has filled out the gaps in its Unix range with the launch of a mid-range server that includes features culled from its high-end Superdome boxes.

The HP Server rp8400, which ships with between two and 16 PA-RISC 8700 processors, includes memory "chip kill" technologies as well as high availability clustering normally found on top of the range boxes.

The server, which comes with either 650 or 750MHz processors, comes with the ability to have two hard partitions. Technology to enable up to 16 virtual partitions is promised for the first half of next year (Sun already has this technology, but let's not quibble here).

Thomas Ullrich, HP's Unix servers category manager, told us the rp8400 was been positioned as a general purpose server for customers where both high availability and price-performance were important (server consolidation, ecommerce ERP etc.)

As usual with server launches, HP came out with a variety of stats to suggest its server knocked the socks off the opposition - outperforming Sun and IBM by between 15 and 30 per cent according to various TPC-C and SPECweb99 benchmarks. Both Sun and IBM are introducing revamps of their product range this month, so it's probably unwise to read too much into such statistics just yet. The 35 per cent performance gain of PA-RISC 8700 processors over PA-RISC 8600 is of note though.

Ullrich emphasised HP's utility pricing models (particularly pay per use but also capacity on demand) and its commitment of a smooth transition towards Intel's Itanium architecture as its differentiators.

He predicted the Itanium architecture would predominate in HP's server sales (or reach its "inflexion point" as he put it) by the first half of 2003. The next 12-15 months will be mainly for development work for customers, Ullrich suggested.

HP co-developed the Itanic architecture with Intel as its long-term processor platform and is unsurprisingly emphasising its own importance in the great project while playing down the Compaq contribution. Ullrich suggested fruits from the movement of Alpha development team to Itanium will not come in product until 2004.

With the pending HP/Compaq merger-acquisition on the table this is an interesting political issue, which we'll return to separately.

The HP Server rp8400 is currently available, in volume, worldwide at prices beginning at $124,000. ®

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