HP Unveils New Chip Set for Itanium Systems

The new "Arches" chip set is part of a host of new capabilities the company is bringing to its high-end servers.

Hewlett-Packard is bulking up the capacity of its Itanium-based Superdome systems with its new "Arches" chip set.

The new chip set, announced March 20, is part of a host of new capabilities—from greater virtualization features to enhanced security and management tools—the Palo Alto, Calif., company is bringing to its high-end servers.

The new sx2000 chip set, which will replace the current "Pinnacles" offering, will allow users to get 30 percent more work done across multiple workloads, according to the company.

The Arches chip set not only will be offered in HPs high-end Superdome systems, but also the midrange Integrity rx7640 and rx8640, which offer from two to 16 processors.

HP is standardizing its high-end systems on Intels 64-bit Itanium chip, and is promising to unveil new Integrity systems when the chip maker in the middle of the year rolls out "Montecito," the first dual-core version of the processor.

Then sx2000 chip set initially was designed to run with Montecito, which initially was scheduled to be released late last year.

However, the launch was delayed, forcing HP to make the chip set not only compatible with Montecito, but also the current single-core "Madison" chips.

HP partnered with Intel more than 11 years ago in announcing the new chip architecture that would become Itanium, and despite early performance problems and delays, is converting its line of Business Critical Systems to the platform.

HP is moving its NonStop line of high-availability systems onto Itanium, and on March 20 unveiled the Integrity NonStop NS14000 systems that offer greater continuity and scalability over current servers.

Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., over the years has changed Itaniums mission, from being a chip that would run most servers—and replace x86 processors—to one targeted at the high-end and RISC replacement spaces.

HP remains the only top-tier OEM to adopt Itanium for its systems, with both Dell and IBM backing away.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead more here about the dual-core "Montecito" chip.

However, a number of smaller systems makers, from Fujitsu and NEC to Silicon Graphics and Unisys, are embracing the chip for their server designs, and have helped form the Itanium Solutions Alliance, which was launched earlier this year to grow the ecosystem among developers and ISVs.

The alliance has pledged $10 billion over the next four years for the effort.

In addition, HP CEO Mark Hurd, in showing continued support for the platform, earlier in March said the company would invest $5 billion over the next five years in research and development, as well as support, around the Integrity systems.

Analysts several years ago were bullish on Itanium, then cooled on it as the platform continued to struggle.

However, analyst firm IDC, of Framingham, Mass., now says that it expects the Itanium market to grow from $1.4 billion in 2004 to $6.6 billion by 2010.

In addition to the sx2000, HP also unveiled the HP-UX 11i reference architectures and toolkits for the HP Virtual Server Environment, which officials say will cut in half the amount of time it will take users to deploy virtualization projects.

HP also is offering greater management and security capabilities HP launched Global Instant Capacity for HP-UX 11i, which will give users more flexibility in balancing workloads across multiple data centers.

In addition, other operating system enhancements include disaster recover and high-availability features for Oracle 10g and SAP environments.

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