Hewlett Packard (HP) yesterday launched its long-awaited high-end Unix server, with a pledge to deliver utility-like computing to its users.
Carly Fiorina, HP's chief executive, claimed that the HP 9000 Superdome server is not only an ultra-powerful and flexible server but also a tool for business transformation.
"The Superdome is the most powerful Unix server top to bottom," she said. "We're raising the bar on what it means to be a player in this market. The Superdome is the backbone for an always-on internet infrastructure."
Boasting twice the speed of HP's V-Class server, Superdome is aimed at large dotcoms, service providers and other data-intensive enterprises, and competes with Sun Microsystems' UE10000 and IBM's S80 servers.
Ann Livermore, president of HP's business customer group, said: "We're bringing the mainframe experience to the open systems world - which IBM won't do and Sun can't do."
HP claims Superdome's virtual partitioning feature is the industry's first technology to allow users to automatically reallocate processing power on the fly.
The server, which comes with between two and 64 processors, and 256Gb of memory, features a multiple operating system architecture that initially supports HP-UX 11i and later HP-UX, Windows NT and Linux simultaneously.
Other features include copper chip technology, high availability through component redundancy, and what IBM claims is the industry's largest application specific integrated circuit (Asic) implementation.
HP has also introduced a capacity-on-demand scheme which allows users to pay only for the processing power they use, and expand as their needs grow. This programme also includes upfront systems assessments, pre-installation testing and tuning, utility-based pricing models, technology upgrades, and dedicated service and support teams.
As previously reported, Superdome will initially feature HP's PA Risc processor chips but has been designed with Intel's forthcoming 64bit processor architecture (IA-64) in mind. HP expects to ship the server with IA-64 processors in the second half of 2002.
HP claims that the jump from PA Risc to IA-64 will be relatively painless for users, because PA Risc-based code is binary-compatible with IA-64 as the company helped to design Intel's forthcoming processors.
Duane Zitzner, president of computing systems at HP, said: "To move to IA-64 with HP all you'll have to do is swap boards. With IBM you'd have to switch systems, and with Sun you'd have to switch vendors."
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