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HP debuts first post-merger products

The company unveils a variety of new computer hardware, including a supercomputer and a small desktop PC.

Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday made its first new product introductions since merging with Compaq Computer.

The company unveiled a varied range of new computer hardware, including a supercomputer and a small desktop PC.

The product announcements come just 25 days after HP closed the book on the Compaq merger, May 3, following an eight-month battle with former board member Walter Hewlett.

The divergent products have one thing in common: All are former Compaq products.

Though it's mainly a coincidental function of the two companies' product development timing, the fact that the first offerings to be announced were developed by Compaq also reflects HP's basic post-merger product strategy.

The new HP chose to keep either its own or Compaq's product line in a given category based on which company's offering enjoyed a stronger presence in that market. In some cases, it decided to keep both company's lines.

As a result, more than a few former Compaq lines are offered under the new HP brand. The new HP AlphaServer line is one. It continues on with only a name change.

The latest additions to that line, a new HP AlphaServer SC20 supercomputer and an HP AlphaServer DS20L server, both announced Tuesday, target the very top of the corporate and government computing markets.

The HP AlphaServer SC20 supercomputer is constructed by combining as many as 128 DS20L servers using a high-speed bridge for data. The SC20 will start at $290,000, a price that includes four DS20L systems and 4GB of memory. The machine will deliver up to 426 gigaflops per second.

Each new DS20L rack-mountable server contains two 833MHz Alpha EV68 processors and up to 2GB of memory. Companies can fit as many as 40 DS20L servers, costing about $18,000 each, into a single 6.5-foot-tall rack, the company said.

Later this year, HP will also release a new high-performance server based on the Alpha EV7, a next-generation version of the Alpha chip.

Though HP said manufacturing of Alpha chips will cease after the EV7 and products based on the chip will eventually be moved to Intel's Itanium processor, a company representative said the new Alpha products reinforce HP's commitment to support Alpha customers for the foreseeable future.

HP also introduced on Tuesday three new Compaq Evo PCs, aimed at corporations.

HP chose to keep both the HP Pavilion and Compaq Presario PC brands for the consumer market. However, it chose to go with the Compaq Evo brand for business customers. It will phase out all of its business PCs with the exception of its ePC and sell only Compaq Evo brand PCs for businesses after the end of the year.

The new HP Compaq Evo business PC line includes a pair of Evo D510 desktops, designed to provide a range of chassis sizes and a longer lifecycle. HP will offer the PCs for up to 12 months. The D510 will start at $769 with a Celeron processor or $899 with a Pentium 4 and begin shipping next week, HP said. One model, the Evo D510 Ultra Slim Desktop, is built on a chassis that takes up less space than other Compaq PCs. It was designed for the tight confines of call centers, among other things.

Meanwhile, the company's new Evo D310 desktop is designed to offer a lower priced, basic PC. It starts at about $740 without a monitor. In the next few weeks, HP will introduce a Celeron version of the desktop that will cost less than $700, a company representative said.

All three of the new machines use Intel's newest 845G chipset. A chipset is a group of chips that carries out many of the major functions inside a PC, such as shuttling data between different components. The 845G includes a built-in graphics processor, which helps lower manufacturers' costs.

HP also launched a new Evo N800 notebook, aimed at small businesses. The machine, which sports a 15-inch screen and a Pentium 4 processor, will start at about $1,700.

While HP is bullish about its product plans, it continues to be cautious about its outlook for the future.

During its first-quarter earnings conference call May 14, the company was measured in its outlook on IT spending for the rest of the year and declined to provide projections for its future as a combined entity with Compaq. The company later said it wanted more time before making those projections public. It will give the projections next week at a meeting with financial analysts in Boston.