HP: Trim the Fat with Efficeon Blades

With the summer time fast approaching, HP is suggesting its customers try to shed some excess IT weight and slip into something a bit more thinning.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company Monday added a batch of new blade servers based on the Transmeta TM8000 or Efficeon processor. The update marks HP as the only vendor to offer x86 architectures from three different chip manufacturers: Intel and AMD and Transmeta.

The new offerings are a part of HP’s Consolidated Client Infrastructure (CCI) hardware and software pairings. Originally unveiled in December, the goal is to offer customers a cheaper alternative to racks of pizza box servers and instead use “virtualization” software and low-power hardware in concert.

The HP Blade PC bc1000 features a 1.0 GHz Efficeon processor, 40-gigabyte ultra ATA/100 hard drive and up to 1,024 megabytes of double data rate SDRAM. The new blade is ready in North America for $820 per blade and should ship around the world later this year. HP is also offering a customized package made up of HP’s new blade PCs, Compaq thin clients, and network storage complete with installation, training and a support contract starting at just under $1,399 per seat.

“Blade PCs represent a highly viable substitute for standard desktop PCs in enterprises that value tighter security, better optimized floor space and lower operating costs,” Roger Kay, vice president and analyst at technology market research firm IDC. “Lower operating costs can result from labor savings on installations; moves, adds and changes; security patch distribution; software updating; and other centrally managed tasks.”

The strategic partnership is also a boon to Santa Clara, Calif.-based Transmeta, which retains its marquee partnership with HP to power its Compaq Evo Tablet PCs as well as its Compaq t5300 and t5500 thin clients.

LongRun is Transmeta’s secret sauce that allows both its Crusoe and Efficeon processors to adjust MHz and voltage at hundreds of times per second to reduce power consumption. Current releases of Efficeon run at 7-watts. Now in its second-generation, the LongRun technology also addresses transistor leakage — a growing problem in the semiconductor sector as the technology shrinks to smaller dimensions along the nanometer scale. The second generation Efficeon chips are due out in 2004 and are expected to run between 1.0GHz at 3-watts all the way up to a 2.0 GHz version that only takes up 25 watts of power. A third generation Efficeon is already being planned.

HP’s consolidation message is based on empowering network administrators with a portfolio that also includes Intel’s Itanium architecture, OpenSANs, Linux, UNIX, Windows 2000, OpenVMS, and HP NonStop platforms.

The computer and printer maker is not the only vendor on the block talking about virtualization of desktop, server and storage resources. IBM, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, VERITAS, Oracle, Dell and others are all working on selling their solutions to the problem of under utilization of CPU cycles.

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