HP Continues to Take Stock in AlphaServer

When Hewlett-Packard acquired Compaq Computer back in 2001, DEC/Alpha fans held their breath.

But now that the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker has agreed to keep its AlphaServer series alive and well, HP has had to put its money where its mouth is and provide some type of roadmap as it ultimately transitions its lineup towards Intel Itanium chips on HP Integrity servers.

To help keep the balance of power just right, the company Friday said it has started shipping the second wave of its HP AlphaServer systems — the GS1280. Based on its EV7 Alpha processor technology, the servers run 32 1.15 GHz Alpha processors with either 4 or 8 GB of ECC RDRAM memory; 102.4 GB/s I/O bandwidth; 1.75 MB ECC on-chip cache; between 10 to 320 PCI/PCI-X slots, 1 to 32 AGP slots; up to16 system partitions; complete “lights out” system management; instant capacity on demand; and runs either Tru64 UNIX or OpenVMS.

Prices were not disclosed. The first wave of AlphaServer models introduced in January started with a base price of $117,000. A 64-chip version of the AlphaServer with 16 GB of ECC RDRAM is expected to debut next year along with updated servers based on next generation EV79 Alpha processor technology.

In addition to the GS1280 systems, the EV7 processor-based AlphaServer family includes the ES80 departmental server and the ES47 workgroup systems. New storage options include the HP StorageWorks Modular SAN Array 1000, Enterprise Virtual Array 5000 and Disk Array xp1024 systems.

“Our new AlphaServer systems offer powerful performance for the foreseeable future and, when customers are ready, we will help them evolve to Itanium processor-based HP Integrity servers,” HP senior vice president and general manager Rich Marcello said in a statement.

HP is providing that migration through its “Alpha RetainTrust program”. Introduced in October 2002, the company offers joint planning and active support for HP AlphaServer customers’ needs for the long haul. HP says it will even help plot out a customer’s platform migration, database migration, custom application migration and partner application migration. The goal, however is to wean the EV crowd off of AlphaServers and into Itanium architecture-based HP Integrity systems. Sources close to the migration plan tell internetnews.com that the current breakdown of 40 percent Alpha, 40 percent PA-RISC and 20 percent Itanium will be reconfigured to at least 40 percent Itanium and 30 to 20 percent of the other two processors in as little as five years.

The AlphaServer family got its roots back in January 2003 with its ES47 and ES80 systems running Linux. The series includes storage options like the HP StorageWorks Modular SAN Array 1000, Enterprise Virtual Array 5000 and Disk Array xp1024 systems. These storage offerings also support HP Integrity servers. The company said its 32-chip and 64-chip AlphaServers will only run on Tru64 UNIX and OpenVMS operating systems.

In addition to transitioning from Alpha chips to Itanium chips, HP is transitioning from Compaq’s old Tru64 UNIX to HP-UX 11i (currently in version 2 for Itanium, version 1 for everyone else).

The company said its current migration tool box includes a scoping tool, called appscan, to help plan the porting effort; a porting tool, the Tru64 UNIX to HP-UX Software Transition Kit, to determine source level compatibility and provide technical recommendations for moving applications to HP-UX; and a deployment tool, called Tru64 UNIX Migration Environment for HP-UX, providing the habitat to make Tru64 UNIX applications native to HP-UX.

HP says free Tru64 UNIX and OpenVMS software license trade-ins are available for customers that have active “Rights to New Versions” software support agreements when they decide to make the jump move to HP Integrity servers running HP-UX or OpenVMS.

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