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NT server from HP crowds Unix space

Is the writing on the wall for Unix servers? A new, very-high-end Hewlett-Packard server running Windows NT will work in support of Unix systems--for now.

New, very-high-end Windows NT servers, announced today by Hewlett-Packard (HWP), will set the stage for NT servers to begin replacing powerful Unix systems at large corporations.

The HP NetServers will initially be used in a supporting role for servers that run the Unix operating system. But HP could also design the servers as full-fledged replacements for the Unix boxes, though it denies this will happen right away.

"Windows NT currently does not have all the uptime and functionality that Unix does," said Gabe Gottart, a worldwide product marketing manager for HP. He predicts it will be about three years before Windows NT servers make the final push into the data center, where Unix servers currently reign.

Gottart says HP is waiting for the 64-bit version of Windows NT as well as the 64-bit Merced processor from Intel. Currently, the Pentium Pro chip largely used in servers and high-performance desktops is based on a 32-bit architecture.

In the meantime, HP is offering hardware and software technologies to will supplement NT's capabilities. The services include clustering technology from Microsoft and HP ClusterView, a tool used to monitor networks of clustered Unix or NT servers.

HP is also working to create the same customer support services for Windows NT that it offers to Unix customers. These include a recovery service that connects customers directly to repair technicians and provides six-hour repair for NetServer systems, the company said.

HP's new NetServer products include the NetServer LXr Pro, which is offered with up to four 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors in a rack-mounted design. HP says the new system's modular design can support up to five servers in a single rack enclosure. A new NetServer Rack Storage/8 system will support up to eight hot-swappable hard disk drives for up to 72GB of storage, HP said.

The company is also introducing the NetServer LH Pro, which offers one or two 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors.

Pricing for the NetServer LXr Pro with dual 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors, NetRAID disk array controller, and 512MB of high quality memory starts at $24,099. A single-processor system with 128MB of memory starts at $14,799. Pricing for the NetServer Rack Storage/8 starts at $2,499.