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HP drops price of Unix servers

The company introduces new low-end Unix servers that follow rival Sun Microsystems into the sub-$1,000 market.

Hewlett-Packard introduced new low-end Unix servers Wednesday that follow rival Sun Microsystems into the sub-$1,000 market.

The entry-level rp2430 and rp2470 are replacements for the A400 and A500 models, respectively, HP said Wednesday. The systems bring the new PA-RISC 8700 chip to HP's low-end Unix servers, and the cheapest model has a starting price of less than $1,000.

Sun pioneered that low price range with its Netra X1 last year as a way to fend off competition from cheaper Intel servers.

HP, while wrapped up in merger plans with Compaq Computer, hasn't lost sight of its intense competition with IBM and Sun in the Unix-server market. Unix servers--powerful networked machines that handle tasks such as managing bank transactions--are the largest single segment of the server market, and purchases often tow along sales of software, services and storage systems.

Sun has long reigned as monarch of the Unix-server market, with HP in second place, but IBM is coming on strong with reinvigorated products and market share just two percentage points behind HP for 2001.

HP's stronghold in the Unix-server market is in the mid-range--systems typically costing more than $100,000 but less than $1 million. The company has sold its 16-processor rp8400 to American Airlines, Cleveland Clinic Health Systems, Sony, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, and Toyota, the company said Tuesday, and last week it introduced the eight-processor rp7410 to shore up the mid-range products.

The rp2400 series is rack-mountable and 3.5 inches thick. The rp2430 accommodates only one 650MHz PA-RISC 8700 CPU (central processing unit), whereas the rp2470 can handle up to two 750MHz 8700 chips and has better input-output capabilities.

An rp2430 with 128MB of memory costs less than $1,000, though a more typical model with 512MB of memory and more disk capacity costs about $3,500, HP said. The rp2470 ranges in price from $4,000 to $40,000, with a typical model going for about $13,500.