HP keeps e3000 ticking with new chips

Hewlett-Packard Co. may be ending shipments of the popular e3000 server next year, but on Wednesday the company nevertheless announced upgrades to the system with the addition of new processors and an updated operating system.

HP will stop selling the e3000 server as of October 2003 but is providing those users that still rely on the platform with faster processors and more software tools to help them make the transition to new equipment, said Kriss Rant, HP’s e3000 server and storage product manager. The more powerful a-class and n-class servers in the e3000 line could help customers fill gaps in their infrastructures before switching to systems based on new RISC (reduced instruction set computer) or Intel Corp. chips, he said.

“Customers still need to run their businesses during the transition,” Rant said. “This is for the customers that feel they need to go through one more performance upgrade to carry them through.”

HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is now shipping the lower end models of the e3000, called the a-class systems, with 150MHz PA-RISC chips available for one-processor servers and 200MHz PA-RISC chips for two-processor servers. A base configuration of a one-processor server with 128MB of memory starts at US$15,900. A two-processor server with 512MB of memory starts at US$36,900, Rant said.

The higher end n-class servers use 380MHz, 500MHz and 750MHz chips. A one-processor system running at 380MHz with 1GB of memory starts at US$69,900. A more powerful server with three 750MHz chips and 6GB of memory starts at US$499,900, Rant said.

All the servers run Version 7.5 of HP’s proprietary MPE/iX operating system. With this latest version of the OS, users get built-in Fibre Channel support, the HP WebWise Web server and Sendmail bundled at no cost.

HP will continue to offer customers a free hardware conversion kit that allows them to fit new PA-RISC processors used in the company’s mainstream Unix line into the e3000 chassis.

HP eventually will start moving its Unix customers off its RISC processor-based servers and onto Itanium-based servers. The Itanium processor is Intel’s 64-bit chip designed for the high-end server market.

All the new offerings are available immediately. HP will continue to support the venerable e3000 until Dec. 31, 2006.