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HP to debut six-processor servers

In an effort to wrestle some market share away from Compaq, Hewlett-Packard will introduce new Intel-based servers with an unusual six-processor design at bargain prices.

In an effort to wrestle some market share away from Compaq, Hewlett-Packard will introduce new Intel-based servers with an unusual six-processor design on Monday at bargain prices.

To lure as many customers as possible, HP will sell the six-processor versions of the new Netserver LH6000 and LT6000r servers for the same $25,000 price as the four-processor versions through June, Netserver marketing manager Mari Young said. A typical six-way ordinarily would sell for about $30,000.

But as is customary when dealing with Intel-based computers, competitors aren't standing still. IBM, for example, will introduce two new four-processor versions of its Intel-based Netfinity server line on Monday as well.

IBM's new 7100 will be a basic four-processor model, but the 7600 will have many more features standard. Both will be able to have PCI cards such as disk controllers or network cards swapped or installed without having to shut the system down. It also comes with "chipkill" technology, which lets computers continue working even when memory elements go faulty.

And Dell, which prides itself on its low prices, has an aggressive program to sell rack-mountable servers, increasingly popular models in the Internet age.

"The competition will be paying close attention to the price points," said Technology Business Research analyst Kelly Spang. "Going into 2000, HP has a very competitive product line. If they're going to gain back market share, this would be the time to do it."

The 6000 servers come in two models, one that can be mounted into a rack that can accommodate four hard disks and four cards plugged into the PCI slots, the other free-standing that can hold 12 disks and six PCI cards.

The new models use the HE (high-end) model chipset from ServerWorks, a company that has won a place powering the communications of servers from all the biggest server manufacturers.

While the computer is being positioned against servers with four Xeon processors, it offers nearly the performance of HP's eight-processor system, said product manager Chris Bennet. The eight-processor systems use the "Profusion" chipset from Intel.

HP is taking great pains to convince potential customers that the machine isn't a mere curiosity, spending lots of money to have benchmark measurements made that show the two extra processors are actually doing work and not just heating up the room.

HP and IBM both have aggressive plans to sell more storage systems that are separate from the disk drives found within the server itself. Such centralized storage is more expensive to set up but offers the promise of being easier to manage. HP's new servers will work with the FC60 storage system, a mid-range cabinet that can hold 4.3 terabytes of data. The FC60 previously only worked with HP's Unix servers.