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HP Greets Madison Chips with Revamped Integrity Line

HP Monday upgraded its Integrity line of servers with the new Intel Intanium 2 chips, code-named Madison, shoring up what they believe is a fine balance between offering high-performance computing at reasonable prices in a soft economy.

The Palo Alto, Calif. company announced the upgrade concurrently with Intel's Madison release. Not to be outdone, rival IBM Monday also unveiled its own line of servers based on the 1.5 gigahertz processor.

Now tailored for HP's adaptive enterprise strategy to let customers grab computing power as they need it, the Integrity family, inherited from Compaq in the megamerger more than a year ago, ranges from one-and two- processor entry-level systems up to a 64-processor HP Integrity Superdome server.

Rich Marcello, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise storage and servers for business critical services at HP, said one of things that makes the revamped line so attractive, is that it can run UNIX, Windows and Linux on a single system at the same time, thanks to HP's partitioning capabilities.

This means customers can use the machines to marry resources from disparate environments to raise scalability, availability and performance with fewer resources. This yields a greater return-on-investment.

The HP Integrity Superdome comes in 16-, 32- and 64-processor configurations, while the four-processor HP Integrity rx5670 and two-processor HP Integrity rx2600 entry-level servers have been upgraded with Itanium 2, as well as 6MB of level 3 cache This fall, the company plans to introduce mid-range Integrity systems with eight and 16 processors. All of the servers will run HP-UX11i, Windows Server 2003 and Linux. Integrity servers sporting HP's OpenVMS operating system are planned for next year.

The new HP Integrity Superdome servers are slated to roll out in August with prices starting at $262,000. The Integrity rx5670 will be for sale in July $27,000, while the small business rx2600 will debut the same time for $5,400.

Like IBM, HP also said it will support two major Intel architectures, IA-32/Xeon and IA-64/Itanium. The company pledged to upgrade the HP ProLiant DL560, DL580, ML570, DL740 and DL760 servers and ProLiant BL40p blade server with the Intel Xeon processor MP at speeds up to 2.8 GHz in July.

Marcello said the Itanium 2-based systems feature more than 700 applications from software vendors such as BEA, Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, SAS, and Siebel, with more than 1,000 applications to be available by year's end. He also said HP has lined up key customers for the new Integrity servers, including Raymond James Financial, which is using Integrity Superdome server running Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Windows server 2003 Datacenter Edition, and Airbus UK.

Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff said because HP has been in for Itanium 2 all along, it sits squarely in the driver's seat as the market leader in selling the systems. This is a favorable position, but Haff said HP also should be careful.

"Now HP has to strike a delicate balance around their message," Haff said. "On the one hand, they get to jump up and down and say, 'we're No. 1'. On the other, they don't want Itanium to be known as an HP chip rather than a 64-bit equivalent of IA-32."

To accommodate the Integrity line, HP also unveiled the Itanium 2-based HP Workstation zx6000, which features up to 50 percent increased application performance for scientific and technical applications. It is available now for $4,895.

In related news, rival systems maker Dell announced a new PowerEdge 3250 server with Itanium 2 processors starting at $5,999. An 8-node cluster for high performance computing is priced at $88,600.

Dell will also offer Intel's Xeon MP processors with up to 2.8GHz speed and 2MB embedded cache on the PowerEdge 6650 and 6600 four-way servers with prices starting at $5,999 and $5,499, respectively.