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.

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