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HP puts Windows server back on top

After further optimization, Hewlett-Packard reclaims its top rank from IBM on a server speed test using a machine with 64 Itanium 2 6M processors and Microsoft Windows.

After further optimization, Hewlett-Packard has reclaimed its top rank from IBM on a server speed test using a machine with 64 Itanium 2 6M processors and Microsoft Windows.

HP's Superdome server achieved 707,000 transactions per minute on the single-system version of the Transaction Processing Performance Council's TPC-C test, the company said Wednesday. The result nudged the Superdome past an IBM p690 Turbo Unix server that had stolen the lead two weeks ago with a score of 681,000.

IBM, which has new Unix servers planned for 2004, expects it will be able to reclaim the crown, a representative said.

The TPC-C test, which simulates a heavy load of transactions such as purchase orders and inventory changes in a warehouse, isn't a flawless measure of real-world performance, but it's still widely watched. HP considers it a necessary indication that its new systems are worth buying.

"When you're launching a brand-new architecture, you've got to put a stake in the ground," said Peter Blackmore, head of HP's Enterprise Server Group, in an interview.

HP's plans include Superdomes using both its own PA-RISC processor and Intel's Itanium--which HP initiated and helped to develop. The Itanium models, though, will outperform the PA-RISC models, Blackmore said.

"We know it already outperforms PA-RISC," Blackmore said of Itanium. However, he said he couldn't predict when Itanium systems, which require new software for top performance, would outsell PA-RISC systems.

HP's Itanium systems run Windows, Linux, OpenVMS and the HP-UX version of Unix. The first Superdome with Itanium family processors is expected in late summer, according to Mark Hudson, head of HP's high-end server marketing. A Superdome with 128 Itanium 2 6M processors is expected in January.

The Itanium systems, in combination with Microsoft's new Windows Server 2003, have given Microsoft new potential in the market for powerful servers with dozens of processors.