HP's recent tepid earnings announcement was highlighted by the admission that the company's high-end Unix server sales were slower than expected. Rivals like Sun have said they are having success selling into HP accounts with the Starfire Ultra Enterprise 10000 box.
But the new HP servers may change that. The new V-class family of systems includes up to 16 200-MHz PA-8200 64-bit microprocessors, with support for 32-way symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) capabilities due by next year. Support for HP's next-generation 8500 series of microprocessors is also planned for next year.
"It definitely provides HP with a platform to get back into the game," said Jerry Sheridan, analyst with market researcher Dataquest. "The intent is to indicate to their installed base that they're not giving up on the PA chip."
HP is developing a next-generation chip with Intel that is supposed to blur the line between high-performance chips for Unix machines, like those based on HP's Precision Architecture (PA), and Intel's PC-based Pentium juggernaut. The combined HP/Intel initiative is supposed to support PA-based applications as well as those written for the Pentium architecture, but some customers may be hesitant to upgrade HP systems due to confusion based on the competing platforms.
Along with the server systems, HP announced that HP-UX 11.0 will debut in the fourth quarter. The latest version of the Unix variant will include a full 64-bit implementation, which means that larger chunks of data can be handled at one time or stored locally for easy access. All Unix vendors either ship a 64-bit implementation or plan to roll out the technology within the next two years.
The company also rolled out new systems for its K-class line and Enterprise Parallel Servers (EPS). The new K-class models offer up to 6-way SMP, with prices starting at $66,900. Shipments are expected this summer. New EPS 23 and 40 models offer customers massively parallel processing capabilities, with processor support extending up to 512 at the high-end.
The new V-class models will ship in the fourth quarter, with prices starting at $170,000.