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HP to pump IDF full of Opteron boxes

No Yamhill love

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IDF Shocking as it seems to us, HP looks set to announce its new line of Opteron servers on Thursday - day three of the Intel Developer Forum.

A couple of sources peg tomorrow as the day HP will do the deed and chum up to Intel rival AMD. If true, the Opteron server launch would cap off a busy week for HP with it backing Intel's new 64-bit Xeon extensions and Itanium as well. But strangely, HP's Prince of Darkness, Shane Robison, did not mention the Opteron boxes at all during a shared keynote speech with Intel's server chip chief Mike Fister.

We thought this must be some mistake given the nature of Robison's slides.

"HP is committed to bringing choice in industry standard servers architectures to all tiers of the Adaptive Enterprise," reads one slide. The problem is that only Xeon and Itanium processors appear on the page.

So, even though HP plans to roll out one to four processor Opteron boxes (ProLiant DL585), it's temporarily playing the same game as Intel, pretending AMD's technology does not even exist.

Clear as Mud

A trio of HP executives were a tad more forthcoming about Opteron. In an interview, all three of the HP staffers admitted they have heard of the processor. They even went to so far as to say: "it's pretty clear that 64-bit extensions are good for customers." Something that was apparently less clear before Sun and IBM started shipping Opteron gear.

Paul Miller, HP's vice president of industry standard servers, denied that HP has pushed a confusing 64-bit strategy, despite our arguments to the contrary.

HP, after all, has been leading customers with full force to Itanium for the past three years. We're sure large customers knew of Intel's Yamhill plans, but some of the others must feel misled now. Would you have gone through the pains of a EPIC migration, if you knew HP planned to pump out both 64-bit Xeon and Opteron systems?

But if Intel and HP had admitted to Yamhill last year, the revelation likely would have hurt the adoption of Madison - the third generation Itanium processor. And both companies needed that chip to show some success.

HP does, however, admit that customers may waffle on Itanic now.

"I think there will be some customers who delay Itanium purchases," Miller said. But he added that 64-bit extensions for Xeon should help accelerate the move to 64-bit computing overall.

In total, HP plans to keep up its attack against Dell, IBM and Sun Microsystems with Itanic on the high-end and an Intel/AMD mix below. The company has no plans at this time to bring a version of HP-UX for x86 systems as Sun has done. But the awkward silence present when we asked if such an OS existed was intriguing to say the least. ®

IDF Spring '04 coverage in full

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