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HP prepares new Integrity servers for Tukwila launch

Hewlett-Packard Co. will make significant updates to its Integrity server line next year to coincide with the launch of Intel Corp.'s first quad-core Itanium processor, known as Tukwila, an HP executive said.

HP won't provide details about the new systems, but one analyst said HP may introduce a modular, blade-like design for more of its Integrity systems, much as it did last year for the Integrity NonStop. That could help to make the systems more energy-efficient and reduce HP's manufacturing costs.

It will be a good time for HP to update the systems. Tukwila will not be socket-compatible with previous generations of Itanium, and HP customers won't be able to use the new chip in most Integrity systems, Lorraine Bartlett, a vice president with HP's Business Critical Systems division, said in an interview.

That means customers will have to buy a new server if they want to use the quad-core Itanium processor. HP will try to sweeten the transition to the new chip by using it as an occasion to “modernize” its Integrity hardware, Bartlett said.

The Integrity line competes with Sun Microsystem Inc.'s Sparc and IBM's Power systems and is targeted at applications that require a large memory footprint or high levels of uptime. HP is by far the biggest customer for Itanium, which it adopted to replace its own PA-RISC processor running HP-UX and other operating systems.

The company is particularly keen to update its high-end SuperDome server, which has had the same enclosure since it was launched almost a decade ago, Bartlett said. The Tukwila launch “really is the opportunity for us to introduce a much more efficient, modern infrastructure for SuperDome,” she said.

SuperDome is the largest Integrity system, scaling to 64 processors. The line also includes entry-class systems that scale to four processors and mid-range servers that scale to 16. Those systems today each have a different underlying hardware infrastructure.

“So what you'll find that we'll do in the next generation is a platform that can cover that entire space very cost-effectively and efficiently for customers. Today the servers are quite similar, but they are independent servers,” Bartlett said.

She declined to elaborate, but Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff said the launch of HP's Integrity Nonstop BladeSystem last year may offer a clue where the company is headed.

That move saw HP move its fault-tolerant NonStop technology onto its BladeSystem hardware. That means HP gets to use some of the same hardware that it uses for other, higher-volume blade products, which reduces its design and manufacturing costs. HP says the blade systems are also more energy-efficient and require less floor space.

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