HP Upgrades Itanium-Powered NonStop Servers

As part of the commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the systems, Hewlett-Packard says it is upgrading its Itanium-based Integrity NonStop servers to enable users to increase capacity, improve performance and integrate with such open-source software as Spring and Apache Axis2. The NonStop systems were first developed by Tandem, which was bought by Compaq, which was later bought by HP.

Hewlett-Packard is enhancing the performance and capacity of its high-end Integrity NonStop servers, one of the ways the company is noting the 35th anniversary of the systems.

The NonStops are part of HP's high-end offerings that offer mainframe-like capabilities and are powered by Intel's Itanium processor.

The upgrades, announced Dec. 17, include the introduction of the NonStop BladeCluster Express 1.2, which improves the systems' performance in environments where there are thousands of processors and that span a wide geographical area. In addition, HP is introducing NonStop SOAP 4.0, which enables greater SOA (services-oriented architecture) capabilities in the systems, allowing them to aggregate data from across the enterprise and integrate it with open-source software such as Spring, Apache Axis2, MyFaces and Hibernate.

HP also has upgraded the NonStop SQL 2.3 database, which will mean increased service levels, simplified software programming, better application capacity and improved performance, according to HP officials.

The NonStop line was first developed 35 years ago by former HP employees who started Tandem Computing, which later was aquired by Compaq. Compaq, in turn, was acquired by HP.

Now the NonStops are part of HP's Integrity family of high-end systems powered by Itanium. After several delays, Intel is scheduled to release the next iteration of Itanium, dubbed "Tukwila," in early 2010.

Once designed to be the 64-bit standard for Intel systems, Itanium is now more of a niche chip for high-end systems competing with the likes of IBM's Power systems and Sun Microsystems' high-end SPARC/Solaris systems.

Industry analyst for years have debated the relevance and life expectancy of Itanium, though Intel officials say they see no end to the architecture, despite the increasing capabilities of their own x86 Xeon chips.

In an interview in November, Boyd Davis, general manager of Intel's server platforms group marketing, said Itanium and Xeon "both address different needs, and they will for a long time to come."

The quad-core Tukwila is expected to offer double the performance of the current "Montvale" Itanium chips. The latest delay, announced in May, was a conscious choice by Intel to enable its engineers to improve the chip, Davis said.

HP is by far the largest Itanium user, with about 90 percent of the chips running in HP systems. Other smaller systems makers using Itanium include Fujitsu, NEC, Hitachi and SGI.