In a somewhat surprising move, telecommunications equipment maker Motorola [MOT] has chosen a variant of Hewlett-Packard’s [HPQ] Itanium rack servers and Carrier-Grade Linux as the foundation of two of its next-generation lines of mobile telecom switching equipment. HP will be pleased with the news, as it proves that its Itanium platform has genuine market potential.
Motorola has chosen HP’s Itanium rack server for mobile telecoms switching equipment.
Joy King, HP’s director of worldwide marketing and communications, says that Motorola chose the Itanium platform for its CDMA and iDEN switching equipment because it was concerned about performance and that it wanted to be able to get the price of network equipment down so it could bring its cellular switching software down in price to appeal to tier two customers in the telecoms market. The cx2600 is certified to NEBS Level 3, and uses the 1.3GHz Itanium 2 processors from Intel. It can have up to two of these in a single chassis.
Motorola’s announcement is surprising mainly because the company’s chief executive Ed Zander was ambivalent about Linux and a well-known Itanium-basher when he was president of Sun Microsystems two years ago.
For the past decade, network equipment providers such as Motorola, Alcatel [ALA], Lucent [LU], Ericsson, Northern Telecom and others have traditionally taken NEBS-compliant versions of low-end Unix servers and had them modified to run DC power and fit the different form factors in use in the telecom industry. At 20 inches, telecom servers are less deep than rack-mounted commercial servers.
But in the past few years, as X86 iron has become less expensive and as powerful as RISC/Unix boxes and Linux has been ruggedized to take on telecom applications, network equipment providers have started embracing X86 iron running Carrier-Grade Linux.
The adoption of that variant of Linux by Motorola was no surprise, but the choice of the cx2600 NEBS-certified variant was a bit less predictable, especially since 64-bit Nocona servers that are NEBS certified are probably not that far off into the future. Nonetheless, HP is obviously very happy with Motorola’s choice, since it at least partially vindicates its contention that the Itanium platform is ready for primetime.