HP unveils 32-processor server

Hewlett-Packard has announced a new line of high-powered servers that are aimed at cutting into the marketshare of rivals, most notably Sun Microsystems.

Designed for technical computing customers, the HP 9000 V2500 Enterprise Server, running the company's 64-bit HP-UX 11 operating system and RISC architecture, is expected to be out worldwide next month and is touted as the globe's fastest server using double the number of chips powering previous servers. Configurations scale from one to 32 PA-8500 RISC processor units; a 128-way configuration is due out in the middle of next year, company officials said.

HP claims that the V2500 server is the first single system that can process more than 100,000 business transactions per minute. The company's new scaleable computing architecture (SCA) allows users to scale servers to 128 CPUs (central processing units) using one HP-UX 11 image.

HP's goal is to "become the high-end vendor of choice in the price band that's over a million dollars," said Janice Chaffin, general manager for HP's High Performance Systems Division. The company wants to boost sales in the high-end market by 25 per cent and the V2500 is a focal point of that desire, she said.

By the end of 2000, HP pledges to have servers on the market that run 99.999 per cent of the time with down time of just five minutes per year, the officials said.

The company also announced new hardware and software packages for business users as well as services, but did not provide specifics on availability and costs.

The announcement "gets them back in the game" in the high-end server market, said Jerry Sheridan, an analyst at DataQuest.

Previously, HP hasn't had a server line that can scale to the size of those offered by rival companies, making the ability of the V2500 to use up to 64 processors, and eventually 128 processors, all the more significant, he said.

Although the server line won't be on the market until January, Sheridan said HP can't be criticised for drumming up interest now so that customers place orders. Moreover, although he has criticised HP in the past for being too conservative, he said the company's approach is "very methodical, very precise, in their testing," and it does not announce or sell machines without working out the bugs.

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