RealTime IT News

HP Trumpets New AlphaServer Systems

HP Monday unmasked the latest iteration of its inherited AlphaServer line, which includes the most powerful machine of the former Compaq family to date.

The new Marvel family of AlphaServers, most of which are already shipping, are packed with the new EV7 Alpha processor, according to John Bennett, AlphaServer Marketing Director of HP Business Critical Systems.

The new Alpha EV7 processor is geared to improve application performance, as it contains the building blocks of a symmetric-multiprocessing (SMP) system, including system interconnects, on one chip to provide improved performance and single system scalability and reliability.

Bennett told internetnews.com a major function feature of the EV7 chip is its "switch-less" mesh architecture, which connects AlphaServer processors directly to one another to render true linear scalability to 64 processors, along with increased system reliability in conjunction with hardware and software enhancements.

The new Marvel departmental and enterprise servers will also switchless mesh architecture that allows users to add processors, memory and I/O capacity in what Bennett called "Lego block-like fashion." The servers will support multipath I/O technology for better system availability and dynamic partitioning capabilities. The servers also come with a new system management console designed for centralized administration.

The crown jewel of this new Marvel family is the is the high-end GS1280 enterprise server. The first AlphaServer models, including 16-processor GS1280 systems, shipped earlier this month at a base price of $117,000. More powerful GS1280 systems ranging up to 64 Alpha processors will follow later this year. Current customers using the GS1280 include WAVE Solutions Information Technology GmbH., a Bank Austria Creditanstalt company, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

"Not only do they deliver more usable bandwidth than anything else, the modularity of the system architecture in conjunction with its manageability makes this an outstanding platform for this decade," said Dr. Michael Levine, Scientific Director, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

Giga Information Group Vice President and Senior Analyst Brad Day said customers had reason to be excited about the new Marvel family from a line first inherited by Compaq from Digital Equipment Corp., which was in turn ceded to HP when it bought Compaq.

"My own belief is that the real customer base draw here is on the Tru64 Unix side," Day told internetnews.com. "That is where HP may want to add a new set of revenue streams for those that migrate to the EV7 servers. This is just not a speed bump. This proves there is life after DEC for the AlphaServer."

The new AlphaServer family also includes the ES80 departmental and the ES47 workgroup systems. Available in a 2-to-8-way configuration, the former is slated to ship in March at a base price of $81,000; the latter is currently available in a tower and rack configuration for $39,670 and $64,400, respectively. Systems based on enhanced EV79 Alpha processor technology will be introduced in 2004.

HP is looking toward the future in its server roadmap. For those interested in the next-generation Itanium chip-based machines, the company also kicked off the Alpha RetainTrust program to make customers' transitions to the forthcoming architecture smoother. Bennett said many AlphaServer ISV partners have committed to support Tru64 Unix and OpenVMS environments for the long-term. The program provides leadership products, infrastructure and industry ISV business solutions, services, and comprehensive business practices.

"Our plan for the next 2-4 years is to look out and take care of customers' capacity needs and growth needs, so they can manage an evolution to Itanium when it makes sense for them," Bennett said.