HP Unveils Servers Based on New Chip

Hewlett-Packard on Monday officially launched its portfolio of Intel Itanium 2-based systems, products and services.

The worldwide rollout comes after nearly seven years of collaboration among HP, Intel and Microsoft.

The new systems run on the high-bandwidth, low-latency HP zx1 chipset, which addresses complex and data-intensive workloads at better prices and performance than comparable RISC (reduced instruction set computing)-based platforms, according to HP executives.

“The combination of the Intel Itanium 2 processor, HP’s zx1 chipset and HP workstation and server systems enables customers to power the most complex technical and commercial business-critical applications,” said Mark Hudson, worldwide marketing manager of HP business-critical systems.

Performance Promises

Priced at US$4,500, the low-end HP Workstation zx2000 is an Itanium 2-based, 900 MHz uni-processor system.

Another system, the zx6000, offers scalable redeployment options for uni- and dual-processor 900 MHz or 1 GHz workstations for $6,400. Meanwhile, the rx2600 supports up to two processors and starts at $7,300.

And at the high end of HP’s Itanium 2 portfolio, the rx5670 is a four-way entry-level server supporting up to four processors. It is priced at $23,400.

Slow Uptake

But while Itanium backers are touting the new chip’s promise, analysts said HP’s rollout is an overhyped beginning to a long, slow uptake of the Itanium 2 chip.

“The problem is that nobody is looking to convert to a new computer architecture,” Forrester Research analyst Carl Howe told the E-Commerce Times. “As a result, HP is going to have to hit some very targeted applications to be successful.”

Indeed, while national laboratories need supercomputing capabilities to perform complex calculations, most enterprises do not require that much processing power.

Moreover, applications must be modified for Itanium, which means companies will face licensing fees and other business barriers that have little to do with the technology itself, but much to do with the success of Itanium 2 in the market.

Long-Term Play

Therefore, industry watchers do not anticipate that Itanium 2 products and services will have a measurable impact on HP’s near-term revenue or profits.

Competitors Sun Microsystems and IBM, of course, will take note that the performance bar has been raised again. But in a market where performance is not the critical issue, HP’s announcement should not intimidate other server sellers, according to analysts.

Even with market powerhouses joining forces to perfect Itanium 2, the alliance does not ensure success.

“Just because it’s from Intel doesn’t mean it will necessarily succeed,” Howe said. “There are very few new instruction sets from Intel that have succeeded.”

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