Hewlett-Packard is putting the latest Itanium 2 processor into its line of Integrity systems and later this year will expand the capabilities of the virtualization software that runs on the servers.
The Palo Alto, Calif., company is refreshing its entire high-end server line with Intels Itanium 2 9000 series and adding two new entry-level servers—the four-socket rx6600 and two-socket rx3600—to the Integrity line. Both of the new servers can be ordered immediately.
Pricing for the rx3600 starts at $10,531; for the rx6600, it starts at $14,771.
The entry-level servers, announced Sept. 7, also are outfitted with the companys zx2 "Titan" chip set, designed to cut power and cooling costs by as much as 50 percent, said Tim Danielsen, worldwide product line manager for HPs Business Critical Servers unit.
The 9000 series—formerly dubbed "Montecito"—is Intels first dual-core Itanium 2 processor that offers such features as on-chip virtualization and a massive 24MB memory cache.
In addition, in the fourth quarter, HP is adding support for Microsofts Windows operating system to its HP Integrity Virtual Machines technology, which enables users to run multiple operating systems on a single processor. The virtualization product currently supports Linux, HP-UX 11i and OpenVMS, Danielsen said.
At the same time, the company will add support for Windows and Linux to its Integrity Essentials Capacity Advisor and Virtualization Manager, management software that currently supports HP-UX 11i. The product is designed to help users increase the utilization of their systems through better capacity planning.
The enhancements are designed to increase the flexibility and capacity of HPs Integrity line, Danielsen said.
"This is driving down the cost of enterprise computing," he said.
During a Webcast Sept. 7, HP executives and customers touted the server line as a key tool for such work as server consolidation and HPs adaptive enterprise initiative. Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HPs Technology Solutions Group, called the server line a "crown jewel" in the companys role as a total IT solutions vendor.
"HP has a long-standing commitment to Integrity," Livermore said.
In March, HP President and CEO Mark Hurd said the company will spend $5 billion over the next five years on the Integrity line, in research and development as well as marketing. That is part of the $10 billion the Itaniums Solutions Group—a coalition of hardware and software makers that is aiming for greater Itanium adoption—will spend on the platform over the next four years.
HP, which is standardizing its high-end systems on the architecture, is by far the top seller of Itanium-based systems, with more than 80 percent of the market. A number of smaller server makers, such as NEC and Unisys, are betting that Itanuim will continue to grow, though the other top-tier OEMs are not using it.
Rich Marcello, senior vice president and general manager of HPs Business Critical Servers unit, said the combination of HP technology and Montecitos features creates a price/performance advantage of up to 2.3 times that of IBMs Systems p and x servers and Sun Microsystems SPARC platform.
Chevron, based in Ramon, Calif., turned to HPs Integrity systems to address the dual issues of data growth and server sprawl, Systems Analyst Paul Brody said during the Webcast.
"We wanted to improve performance on the systems, but we also wanted to start a server consolidation project so that we wouldnt blow out the walls of our data center with the growth that we were experiencing," Brody said. "And the Integrity platform allowed us to do both of those without any large migrations or downtime to the business."
The chip has morphed from when Intel and HP first introduced it more than 10 years ago. Initially seen as the next dominant general-purpose processor, it now occupies a niche as a high-end RISC-replacement technology.
Though few industry observers expect Itanium to grow beyond the niche, some see the chips future as brighter than they had expected. Analyst firm IDC, of Framingham, Mass., is expecting the Itanium market to grow from $1.4 billion in 2004 to $6.6 billion in 2009, a far cry from the earliest projections for the architecture, but still growth.
Danielsen said there are other signs of growth, including more than 9,000 applications that run on the architecture—double the number from last year. In addition, HP is seeing as much as 70 percent growth in its Integrity business every quarter, he said.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from from HPs Sept. 7 Webcast.