HP, IBM Unveil New 64-Bit Servers

HP is revving up its top Superdome server, while IBM is unleashing a new system featuring its Power4 processor.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM this week touted new offerings in the 64-bit market, with HP revving up its top performing Superdome server and IBM unleashing a new system featuring its Power4 processor.

HPs 64-processor Superdome already stands as the companys most powerful system, but the computers performance has been revved up even further with the integration of the companys most powerful PA-RISC processor, the 875MHz 8700 chips.

The upgrade, announced Monday, delivers a significant performance boost over the previous 750MHz 8700chips, HP said, resulting in record-breaking benchmark scores.

For example, in testing targeted at measuring data warehousing, the upgraded Superdome running Oracle 9i Database Release 2 set a world-record one terabyte benchmark result of 25,805 queries-per-hour, according to HP, a mark that bests all single-system or cluster servers on the market at one terabyte.

Such performance doesnt come cheap, with Superdomes on average selling for more than $1 million a piece.

HP said the Superdome upgrade demonstrates that the company--which is in the midst of integrating the recently acquired Compaq Computer Corp. into its infrastructure--hasnt veered from its plans to roll out increasingly faster Unix servers.

"Were on track to double Superdomes transaction performance next year, delivering lasting value that competitors cant match," said Mark Hudson, worldwide marketing manager, HP Business Critical Systems.

In the Java application space, the new Superdome scored 594,161 Java operations-per-second on the SPECjbb2000 benchmark, a result 75 percent higher than IBMs 32-way p690 server, code-named Regatta, and 37 percent better than Sun Microsystems Inc.s 72-way Sun Fire 15K server, known as Starcat.

The benchmark comparisons underscore the increasingly competitive nature of the 64-bit Unix server market, where Sun is the worldwide leader in sales, followed by HP and IBM.

Businesses value 64-bit systems for their capability to handle vast amounts of memory and handle thousands of transactions simultaneously. The systems, which handle many companies most critical business applications, are among the most costly available, and can cost up to $10 million per server.

While HP upgraded its high-end product, IBM on Monday introduced a new low-end server, the p630.

The four-processor P630 marks the first integration of IBMs most powerful processor, the 1GHz Power4, into a server other than the high-end 32-way p690 and the 16-way p670.

The move also marks a new packing of the Power4, with the p630 for the first time featuring the Power4 in a single processor module. In the p690 and p670, four Power4 processors were integrated into a single module with shared memory caches.

IBM claims the new offering will extend the availability of high-end features into lower price ranges, with one-processor configuration offered for as low as $12,495.

"IBMs p630 brings to the entry-level all the partitioning, high performance, high availability and self-management features that you expect from a UNIX box," said Val Rahmani, general manager, IBM eServer pSeries.

On the competitive front, IBM is directly positioning the p630 against Suns newly released four-way Sun Fire V480.

Based on a Web service benchmark, SPECweb99 SSL benchmark, IBM says the p630 will support approximately twice as many simultaneous transactions as the V480 equipped with four 900MHz UltraSparc III processors. Specifically, the p630 achieved 1,050 simultaneous connections compared to 568 for the V480.

In addition to performance, the p630 can be divided up into four partitions, with each partition running a separate operating system, either IBMs proprietary AIX or Linux. By contrast, the V480 has no such partitioning capability.

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