HP, Sun Beef Up Servers

2 HP systems tap Alpha chip.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are bulking up some of their server lines to give users more power and better performance.

HP last week introduced two systems that use its Alpha chip technology—the 64-processor AlphaServer GS1280 and the single-processor AlphaServer DS15. Officials at the Palo Alto, Calif., company said these servers illustrate HPs commitment to the Alpha technology, which came as part of last years Compaq Computer Corp. acquisition. They are also key markers on the road map for customers that must eventually migrate to HPs Integrity server line, which uses Intel Corp. Itanium chips.

The multiprocessor GS1280, which will be the last in HPs line of AlphaServers based on the Alpha EV7 chip, can run both HPs OpenVMS and Tru64 Unix operating systems. The DS15 will replace the current DS10 server.

The new systems are part of HPs AlphaServer RetainTrust program, designed to keep AlphaServer users with HP. The company plans to introduce the last new Alpha chip next year and to stop selling AlphaServers in 2006. HP will end support of the systems in 2011.

HP officials said the 64-way GS1280 will enable AlphaServer users to get the high-end performance they need immediately while they plan their move to the Integrity systems. Enhancements to the EV7-based systems include doubling of memory capacity, an optional high-performance drawer that increases capacity fourfold over the current standard drawer and a memory channel interconnect adapter that reduces the cost of running the systems in clustered configurations.

"[The GS1280] certainly should be beneficial for the installed base," said Jim Garden, an analyst with Technology Business Research Inc., in Hampton, N.H. "Its just ironic that, with all the twists and turns in this [scenario], its their highest- performing server thats going to be taken out and executed."

Meanwhile, Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., last week gave a power boost to its four-way Sun Fire V480 server, a system that the company considered discontinuing. The V480 now runs 1.2GHz UltraSPARC III Cu processors, a jump up from 1.05GHz chips. Sun had said it would replace the V480 with the four-way V440, which it introduced last month. But there were so many differences between the two that customers suggested there was room for both.