HP Increases NonStop Servers Speed, Memory

Update: Enhancements are expected to boost the performance of HP's high-end servers by up to 90 percent.

Hewlett-Packard Co. today unveiled the first new product introductions to its newly acquired line of NonStop servers, high-end computing systems it gained in its buyout of Compaq Computer Corp. last month.

HPs NonStop servers, labeled Himalayas by Compaq, sell for an average of more than $1 million a piece. The complex 64-bit computing systems are highly valued for their ability to handle thousands of simultaneous transactions and their capability to continue operating even if hit with multiple hardware failures.

The robust computing systems are particularly favored by financial institutions and are used to run 15 of the worlds largest stock exchanges as well as automated teller machine networks for some of the nations largest banks.

At a news conference this morning, HP executives touted the addition of Compaqs NonStop servers to its product line and the release two new S-series servers that feature faster processors, larger memory and software upgrades.

"Todays announcement strengthens HPs high-end server lineup and demonstrates our strong commitment to the NonStop platform," said Scott Stallard, general manager of HPs Business Critical Systems, which prior to the Compaq buyout had no high-end fault-tolerant hardware that could match the Himalayas performance.

The new servers, labeled the S76000 and S86000, feature faster processors, more memory, improved hard drives and better networking capabilities than their predecessor, the S74000, which was introduced two years ago.

Combined with additional software enhancements, the S86000 offers up to a 90 percent performance improvement over the S74000. The S76000, which has half as much secondary memory cache as the S86000, offers up to a 50 percent boost in performance.

Both servers feature new RISC-based R140000 processors produced by MIPS Technologies Inc. and can come equipped with up to 16GB of main memory per processor.

The S86000 features a slightly faster version of the MIPS processor running at 550MHz, while the S76000s chips operate at 500MHz. Previously, the top NonStop server came equipped with MIPS R12000, which operated at 300MHz.

Another key performance difference between the two platforms is the size and type of their secondary memory cache, with the S86000 offering 8MB of DDR (double-data-rate) error-correction-code SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) and the S76000 featuring 4MB of SDRAM.

HPs new servers also feature an updated version of its proprietary operating system, called NonStop Kernal (NSK). Among its enhancements are heightened performance capabilities, an extensible compiler, and an ability to create and manage queues in a relational manner, which can boost operating times by doing such things as automatically partitioning queues.

The servers also can be equipped with a variety of enterprise software applications, including Java Virtual Machine, certified to be compliant at the SDK 1.3.1 level and made scalable for enterprise environments; an enhanced Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE)-based enterprise application server (NonStop EAS Release 1.1); a fault-tolerant and scalable Java messaging service (NonStop JMS); powerful publish/subscribe functionality embedded in the database application SQL/MX 1.5; Java database connectivity (JDBC); and comprehensive support for Web services standards, including SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and XML.

The NonStop server line was first developed by Tandem Computers Inc., which was acquired by Compaq in 1997. Despite the changes in ownership, many IT managers still refer to the high-end systems as Tandem servers.

Perhaps the most significant change in the NonStop lines history will occur in 2004, when HP will introduce the first system to be powered by Itanium processors, which were co-developed by HP and Intel Corp. The move will mark the first time the servers have utilized anything other than MIPS-based processors. By 2006, HP plans to migrate its entire NonStop line to Itanium, a chip that was introduced just last year.

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