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HP to boost NonStop performance

A top-end server that Hewlett-Packard plans to introduce Wednesday will run 50 percent faster than the current model. And then there's the new "premium" model.

A new top-end NonStop servers that Hewlett-Packard plans to announce Wednesday will run 50 percent faster than the current model, and the company also plans a new "premium" model that's 90 percent faster, a source familiar with the plan said.

In addition, HP plans to boost its NonStop line with faster and expanded software, the company is expected to announce. Software plans include improvements to run Java programs as much as 20 percent faster, faster database software and support for some technologies at the heart of the Web services effort to create a new generation of business services on the Internet.

HP's NonStop servers, acquired through the merger with Compaq Computer, run ultra-demanding jobs such as the New York, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo stock exchanges, and Bank of America's automated-teller machine network. NonStop servers generally cost more than $1 million.

HP's ability to integrate the NonStop products is viewed as a litmus test for the Compaq integration effort, especially given that Compaq had difficulties melding the NonStop products into its own business when it acquired Tandem Computers 1997.

Software features such as Java and Web services, used widely across many server lines, are key to the effort to advance the NonStop line and keep it relevant, rather than letting it become a niche product that is unable to keep pace with modern programming trends. Web services features coming with the new products include support for Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Scott Stallard, general manager of HP's Business Critical Systems group and Pauline Nist, general manager of the NonStop Enterprise Division, plan to announce the products on Wednesday. HP declined to comment on the products.

The current top-end NonStop S74000 server, which uses SGI's R12000 processor, will be supplanted by the R14000-based S76000. The S76000 also supports up to 16GB of memory per processor, compared with 4GB for the S74000, and has connections to memory and between processors.

The new "premium" line will begin with the S86000, which is similar to the S76000, although each processor has 8MB of high-speed "cache" memory, compared with the 4MB in the S76000, the source said. The improvements will make the S86000 up to 90 percent faster than the S74000 and the S76000 up to 50 percent faster.

The S76000 and S86000 models are shipping now, but a telecommunications-market-specific S86000SE, that has the ability to withstand fire, smoke and cold temperatures, will ship in the fourth quarter.

HP introduces new products based on the forthcoming R16000 and R18000 processors, the source said. In 2004 and 2005, the first and second models based on Intel's Itanium processor will arrive.

HP calls the 2004 premium Itanium systems i2T, to be replaced by the i4T in 2005. In the lower end of the product line, the i2S and i2M in 2004 will be joined by the i4S and i4M in 2005.