HP to release dual-processor Itanium module

Hewlett-Packard Co. next month will begin shipping a new multiprocessor daughtercard that will double the number of Itanium 2 processors supported by its Integrity servers.

The mx2 dual-processor module, code-named Hondo, will be compatible with existing “Madison” Itanium processor sockets, so customers will be able to slide the two-processor module into slots now used for a single processor, HP said. The mx2 will contain 32MB of L4 cache and will come in a variety of processor configurations, HP said.

Models of HP’s Integrity servers that currently contain four or more processors will ship with the module beginning next month, said Mark Hudson, vice-president of marketing with HP’s enterprise storage servers organization. “With this new processor board, (Integrity) will now go up to a 128-way system,” he said.

The largest Integrity server, called Superdome, currently contains as many as 64 processors. Pricing for Superdome with the mx2 modules, which will enable it to scale to as many as 128 processors, will start at US$309,000, HP said.

Though IBM Corp. and Dell Inc. also sell Itanium systems, HP is the only major vendor to provide this kind of dual-processor module for Itanium, said Nathan Brookwood an analyst with the Insight64 research firm in Saratoga, Calif.

However, when Intel begins shipping its dual-core Itanium processor, code-named Montecito, in 2005, users will have an alternative to the mx2. “This is definitely a stopgap measure until you get Montecito, but you don’t get Montecito for another 13 months,” he said. “At least for now, this gives HP a way of getting to 128 processors.”

“We felt it was important to be able to provide our customers with this capability,” said Hudson. “We could not afford to wait until Montecito comes out.”

The mx2 module will be one of a number of product and service announcements HP will make at its annual ENSA@Work user conference in Munich on Wednesday.

HP also plans to announce a new information lifecycle management system called the StorageWorks Reference Information Storage System, designed to archive and retrieve various types of data, including e-mail, according to HP.

“It will basically automatically take your e-mail, archive it for you and digitally stamp it,” Hudson said. “It allows you to basically index and retrieve it in a very quick fashion.”

The system is based, in part, on technology HP picked up in its November purchase of Persist Technologies Inc., Hudson said. Pricing for the system will start at US$425,000 for a 4TB system when it begins shipping later this month.

HP also plans to announce improved services for its NonStop family of servers.

The mx2 module will be available for the Integrity rx4640, rx7620, and rx8620 servers starting in June. Pricing will start at US$16,700, US$56,000, and US$133,000, respectively. Superdome support will follow in July, HP said. The two-processor module will cost approximately twice as much as a single Itanium processor, HP said.

The company has no plans to support mx2 with its Integrity rx1600 or rx2600, or rx5670 servers, HP said.

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