Hewlett-Packard (HP) confirmed this week it will not use early versions of Intel's Merced because its own PA-Risc proprietary processors will give better performance.
At HP World in San Francisco this week HP's processor chiefs detailed the company's plans to phase out PA-Risc over the next two years to incorporate Intel's Merced and later processors on its HP9000 Unix and HP3000 proprietary platforms.
However, early versions of Merced will be used in HP's range of Internet servers and PCs, said Harry Sterling, general manager of HP's computer systems division.
"There will be a two year overlap in performance during which time we will continue to manufacture PA-Risc. There are plans for around four future iterations of the PA-Risc," he said.
The next PA Risc chip is expected to be the PA-8500 running at 400MHz - double the speed of the current model. Later versions will run at 500MHz, 700MHz, 800MHz and finally a 900MHz model expected in 2004.
Intel's IA-64 processors are expected to reinvigorate HP's server line up and will enable it to support HPUX, NT and Linux in the same box. Jim Carlson, director of IA-64 marketing with HP's enterprise systems group, told VNU Newswire that Intel's processors will first appear in HP9000 and in HP3000 a year later.
Although HP's proprietary operating system MPE/iX, which runs on the HP3000 range, will move to IA-64, it is conceivable that future HP3000s could also run HPUX and NT.
None of the executives would give a firm date as to when HP will move completely to Intel's processors, other than saying it would depend when users felt comfortable with moving over to a new architecture and in reality, said Carlson, this takes a long time.
Next year HP expects to launch Superdome an HPUX based mainframe server which Bill Russell, chief operating officer of HP's enterprise systems and software group, said will make its current N Class range of high end boxes - announced in April (see Newswire 14 April) - look like midrange machines. According to Carlson, Superdome will use McKinley, the Merced replacement, when that is ready.
HP claims 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, possible because HP helped to design Intel's forthcoming processors. Upgrades will be done by changing the processor board.
HP said by mid 2001 it will launch a two way multiprocessor server that will replace its current E Class of low end HP3000 systems. These will initially be based on PA-Risc but will also eventually run on IA-64.
Also in the first quarter of next year HP will unveil a 10 to 12 way addition to the HP3000 997 range. This will offer 30 per cent performance improvement over the current eight way model but it will be priced at a higher level than the traditional $40,000 for two processor cards, said Dave Snow, HP 3000 planning manager. It will also require MPE/iX version 6.5.
Next month HP will add a new low end model to its HP9000 Unix range, the L Class. This is aimed squarely at Sun Microsystems, which has taken significant market share with its E450 and E3000 models.
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