Hewlett Packard Co [HPQ] has finished engineering the baby versions of the Itanium 2-based Superdome servers, which are aimed at midrange customers.
The new rx Series machines, max out at 8 or 16 processors and are sold under the Integrity brand name. They give HP a full line of Itanium 2 machines that spans from 2 to 64 processors and runs Windows, HP-UX, or Linux.
With the Integrity midrange server announcements, HP can pursue its own vast HP 9000 Unix server installed base with Itanium 2-based servers, although they won’t sound the immediate death knell for the existing HP 9000 rp7410 (8-way) or rp8400 (16-way) servers, which currently use the PA-8700 processors designed by HP.
While the company has a long-range plan to move all of its customers to 64-bit Itanium servers, HP knows this is a transition that will span many years.
HP is also working on a kicker to the PA-8800 called the PA-8900, which will also be available for customers who do not want to upgrade to Itanium in the next few years. HP can’t force the issue. All it can do is make HP-UX 11i run on the new boxes and hope that the jump to Itanium is more attractive to another platform entirely.
The rp Series machines have cell boards that were designed for the PA-8700 processors running at 750MHz and 875MHz, with up to four processors per cell board. The new rx Series machines have new cell boards that incorporate up to four of the 1.3GHz/3MB or 1.5GHz/6MB Madison Itanium 2 processors.
Companies that want to upgrade from one style of chip to another in these machines can do a board-level swap and plug in the Intel chips into the new boards. The memory modules used in the machines are the same, as are the I/O cards and other peripherals.
The interesting bit, of course, will be to see how the performance and price/performance of the Itanium 2 versions of the 8-way and 16-way machines compare to that of the HP 9000 flavors of the machines.
If the performance is a lot higher – and for some workloads, like SPECjbb it looks as if performance is nearly twice that of the machines using PA-8700 processors – and the price is the same or lower, it won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what customers will do. (HP has to offer much better bang for the buck on Itanium or no one would ever move off PA-RISC.)
Sales of Superdome servers in general are running ahead of plan, and that since the June 30 launch of the Itanium 2-based versions of Superdome, versions of the machine using Itanium are selling well ahead of expectations.
The base rx7620 sells for $23,735, while a base rx8620 sells for $62,730.
HP has been shipping these new machines for the past 20 days, but certification and testing has not been completed on all operating systems. Both machines are shipping now running HP-UX 11i. Linux will be certified in December on these machines, and Windows Server 2003 will be certified in early February.
In addition to these two machines, HP has also announced higher-density four-way servers based on the Plutozx1 chipset made by HP. This machine also uses Madison chips running at 1.3GHz or 1.5GHz. The existing four-way rx5670 servers come in a 7U rack-mounted chassis, but the new rx4640 has been shrunk to a 4U chassis.
HP-UX, Windows, and Linux are available on this machine right now, and a base configuration sells for $15,869. A base rx5670 costs $21,950.
This article was based on material originally published by ComputerWire.