Hewlett-Packard Co. has introduced new multiprocessor blade servers designed to help users support Web and streaming media applications.

The HP ProLiant BL p-Class server are single- or dual-processor blades that use a 1.4 GHz Pentium III processor and address as much as 4GB of memory. The blades are meant to be used with HP’s e-class blades, which are most often deployed as Web, caching or load-balancing servers.

“In some cases, such as for Web services, we need more horsepower,” said Larry Scott, manager of server support at Dollar Rent-A-Car in Tulsa, Okla. Dollar has five HP e-Class blade servers he uses to host his Web servers. He is looking at deploying HP’s p-Class blades for his Windows 2000 applications.

“Our internal business processes and vertical applications use Web services. We don’t always want to keep scaling out – it’s not the most efficient way to do it,” Scott says.

Each HP blade contains redundant Ethernet adapters, an integrated RAID controller and hot-pluggable SCSI 10,000 or 15,000 RPM drives. Like the e-Class blades, the p-Class supports internal storage or network-attached storage. Unlike the e-Class, the p-Class blades reside in a 6U (10 1/2-inch) high rack-mounted enclosure; the lower power e-Class blades come in a 3U (5 1/4-inch) high chassis.

HP says in the first quarter of 2003 it will offer dual- and quad-processor blades that are capable of running back-end database, enterprise resource planning and CRM applications. These blades will be based on the Intel Xeon processor, code-named Prestonia. They will be the first to support external SCSI-attached or Fibre Channel storage.

The market for blades is heating up. According to The Yankee Group, revenue from server blades is expected to grow from US$150 million this year to $3.5 billion in 2005.

By contrast, Dell Computer Corp.’s blades are based to emulate 1U (1.75-inch) servers as much as possible and tuned for Web serving, load balancing and caching. Dell’s blades, which are not shipping, will also be accompanied with brick-like computers later this year that can be used for more transaction-intensive applications such as databases.

All HP BL blades are installed, configured and managed from the same management software. Insight Manager 7 and the ProLiant Essentials Rapid Deployment Pack software ship with the blades. These management packages integrate with the company’s OpenView systems management framework.

The ProLiant BL p-Class blades start at $2,540; the BL p-Class enclosure starts at $3,000. Both are available now.

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