As reported in October by CNET's NEWS.COM, HP announced the HP Netserver LXr PRO8, a brawny system using the Pentium Pro and aimed at "enterprise-class," or high-end, business environments.
The announcement punctuates the continuing push of servers using Intel's Pentium chips and Microsoft's Windows NT operating system into the "backrooms" of large corporations, where computers typically run on the Unix operating system, but it also seems to leave HP out ahead of demand.
HP has beaten rival Compaq to market by almost a year, but eight-processor machines won't likely find an audience until late 1998 or 1999, after information technology (IT) departments become comfortable with the performance of Windows NT in high-end multiprocessing environments, according to observers. IT managers are also expected to wait until there has been greater acceptance of eight-way architectures among the major server vendors.
"This is a solution looking for a problem. I don't see any demand at all for eight-way servers, especially running NT," Jon Oltsik, senior analyst at Forrester, said in an earlier interview. "First, you need an OS that can handle eight processors, and I'm assuming that that is NT 5.0. Then you need some cooking time so that IT managers can comfortably port their applications."
Windows NT 5.0 has not yet been released. Microsoft has released an Enterprise Edition of NT that's purportedly capable of making use of eight processors, but the product was only released at the end of September. NT 4.0, according to many, can only take effective advantage of four processors at once in conventional servers--and even scaling up from two processors to four on NT is problematic so far as cost-performance benefits go.
But HP says its decision to come out with an eight-way server now stems from customer demand. Corporations are already trying to consolidate their multiple one- and two-processor NT servers into larger servers, and they're becoming more comfortable with NT in corporate high-end computing environments, according to Brian Cox, worldwide product manager for high-end systems at HP, in an earlier interview with NEWS.COM.
Further, "By the time they get out their first generation, we will be on our second generation," Cox added.
The NetServer contains eight Pentium Pro processors and 8GB maximum memory, among other enhancements. It's upgradeable to Intel's next-generation "Deschutes" Pentium II processor, which will be more adept at handling multiprocessing than the current Pentium II.