HP expands Intel-based server options

FRAMINGHAM (11/03/2003) – Continuing its progression toward an Intel-only server portfolio, Hewlett-Packard Co. Monday is expected to round out its Itanium-based server line and unveil a two-processor Xeon-based box designed to be a low-cost node in high-performance computing clusters.

HP executives say they hope the new 1U two-processor DL140 will make the company more competitive in the low-end market, where cost-conscious customers are buying primarily from Dell and vendors such as Rackable and RackSaver.

The DL140, a rack-mounted system, will include two Xeon 3.2-GHz processors, 4G bytes of memory and an embedded Gigabit Ethernet network interface card, and be priced at just under US$1,300, HP says. In comparison, HP’s 1U, two-processor DL360 starts at just under US$5,000.

The DL140, which is slated to be available in a few weeks, is the first in a new ProLiant 100 series line of servers that HP will introduce during the next few months. The boxes are aimed at companies looking for reliability and simplicity at a low price, says Paul Miller, vice president of marketing for HP Industry Standard Servers. The servers will come with only limited capabilities from Insight Manager and some CDs to simplify management at remote locations.

HP also is expected to complete its Itanium-based Integrity server line with the eight-processor rx7620; 16-processor rx8620; dense form factor, four-way rx4640; and a carrier-grade, two-way system, the cx2600. The rx7620 and the rx8620 can be ordered now, and are priced at just under US$24,000 and just under US$63,000, respectively.

HP first introduced its Integrity line in June, unveiling the two-way rx2600, four-way rx5670 and the Integirty Superdome, which can expand to 64 processors.

“On the one hand, (HP is) trying to compete with IBM (Corp.), primarily at the high end. On the other hand, it’s trying to compete with Dell (Inc.) at the low end,” says Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata. “It’s trying to play at both ends, which is a tough strategy.”

Benefits and retirement services firm CitiStreet is testing an Itanium-based Superdome and has seen application performance improve twofold, says Barry Strasnick, CIO at the Quincy, Mass., company. CitiStreet expects to transition from PA-RISC to Itanium-based servers.

“Really, Itanium vs. PA-RISC matters less to us than that the slope keeps going up on CPU speed,” Strasnick says. “In 2001, HP showed us that at some point in the future the slope for Itanium would go up faster than PA-RISC such that the two paths would cross. And at the end of 2003, the paths are crossing.”

HP also is expected to announce two new Linux clusters: the XC6000, based on 64-bit Integrity rx2600 systems, and the XC3000 cluster, based on ProLiant DL360s. The clustered systems, which can support up to 512 processors, are expected to be available in December. Pricing wasn’t released.