HP unveils eight-socket, quad-core server

Virtualization enabled by extra cores and processing power, HP says

HP is releasing an eight-socket x86 server using quad-core AMD Opteron processors, which it says is ideal for large virtualization and consolidation projects that can take advantage of extra cores and greater processing power and memory.

The HP ProLiant DL785 G5 is scheduled to ship in May and be compatible with virtualization technology such as VMware ESX, Oracle VM and Microsoft Virtual Server, while supporting the Windows, Linux and Solaris operating systems. It is part of a broader "data center transformation" effort that includes software and service offerings aimed at streamlining data center operations to quickly respond to changing business needs.

HP's not the only eight-socket vendor, but the market for eight-socket machines using quad-core processors is sparse, says Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff. In previous years HP has said it would not introduce an eight-socket x86 system, according to Haff.

"Basically, they finally decided there was a large enough market for it. Virtualization is certainly one of the drivers," Haff says. "It's not so much that it's particularly unique technology. Quite a few companies have simply chosen not to go into this space."

The DL785 is competitive with other symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) servers such as the IBM X4 system, Haff says. IBM advertises the ability to use quad-core processors with anywhere from four to 16 sockets. Another vendor, HPC Systems, sells an eight-socket server using AMD quad-core technology.

Two-socket servers are still the most commonly sold, but four-socket systems are growing in popularity, according to Haff.

Customers using virtualization will be able to consolidate many workloads onto fewer servers because the DL785 has greater processing power, memory, storage capacity and I/O expansion slots than previous servers in the ProLiant DL line, says John Gromala, director of ProLiant marketing. The DL785 has 256GB of memory, up to 2.3TB of internal storage, and 11 I/O expansion slots designed for large virtualization and consolidation projects.

"Given the explosive interest in virtualization, we're seeing a broad set of customers who are interested," Gromala says.

The DL785 is also optimized for databases like Oracle's and Microsoft SQL Server, and has the memory and performance necessary to drive large transaction processing applications, Gromala says.

Pricing of the DL785 will start at US$17,000.

The eight-core server is an upgrade over the HP ProLiant DL585 G2, a four-socket machine using dual-core AMD Opteron processors. HP at one point sold an eight-socket server using Intel single-core processors, but stopped shipping the product about two years ago when multicore processors started gaining steam, according to Gromala.

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