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Compaq, HP update servers

Compaq rolls out space-saving systems for ISPs and others, while HP boosts the performance of more powerful models.

Compaq and Hewlett-Packard are offering up new takes on familiar server products.

Compaq today introduced new Pentium II-based ProLiant servers in a space-saving form factor, while Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced new features and price reductions on its high-end HP 3000 server line, which use HP's PA-RISC processors.

One of the key elements of Compaq's ProLiant 1850R is its design, said Mukund Ghangurde, manager of mainstream server product marketing for Compaq's server products division. The Houston-based vendor has minimized the size of the server so users can fit more units into a standard server rack: Up to 14 will fit in a five-foot square rack, executives said. Racks are used to concentrate multiple server computers in one relatively compact space.

This is important because ISPs, one of the target audiences for the new units, are increasingly segregating functions through hardware. Where in the past one server may have performed both firewall and other functions, cheaper hardware prices mean that these functions can each be given their own box.

In turn, however, that increases the need for smaller units. Compaq said it designed the system so that the core components can be accessed without removing or opening the server.

Compaq said the systems will be available with a 400-MHz Pentium II, two 4.3GB "hot pluggable" hard disk drives (which can be swapped out when the system is on), and 128MB of memory, starting at $6,199.

Meanwhile, HP said that it is boosting performance and cutting prices in its HP 3000 series servers. Based on a proprietary operating system, these powerful systems are employed as "back-end" servers for the demanding database applications run by large corporations.

HP claims its 3000 997 model, which offers up to eight PA-8200 processors in a single system, has improved performance by up to 63 percent.

Some models received price cuts of between 20 to 57 percent.

The 3000 line runs the company's proprietary MPE/iX operating system. HP says its new version of the operating system offers better interoperability with other operating systems, as well as support for the Java programming language.

Eventually, the 3000 series products will include Intel's first 64-bit processor, known as Merced. The company is in the process of moving MPE/iX to the Merced architecture, it said recently.

Mike Kanellos contributed to this report.