HP debuts first Opteron-based blade

HP debuts first Opteron-based blade

Hewlett-Packard Co. Monday is set to debut Opteron-based blade servers, the first of the major server vendors to roll out a blade based on Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s 32-/64-bit chip.

The announcement comes about a year after HP, which had been moving toward an Intel-only line of servers since its acquisition of Compaq, announced that it was joining Sun Microsystems Inc. and IBM Corp. in supporting the hybrid processor. Along with the blade servers, HP on Monday also is expected to unveil its first Opteron-based workstation, as well as a 2U ProLiant server built on the chip.

AMD introduced Opteron in 2003, saying that the processor would give enterprise customers a smoother path to 64-bit computing since the chip can run both 32- and 64-bit applications. At that time, Intel and HP were banking on the 64-bit Itanium chip they had co-designed to become the industry standard for 64-bit computing. But the market was slow to take off for Itanium in large part because applications had to be rewritten for optimum performance on the chip.

Opteron, however, was quickly embraced and analysts say that helped propel Intel to introduce its own 32-/64-bit Xeon last year.

Also on Monday, Intel Corp. and AMD are expected to announce updates to their respective 32-/64-bit chips. The updated Opteron processors will run at 2.6 GHz and the HypterTransport link speeds will jump from 800 MHz to 1 GHz, AMD executives say. In addition, AMD is integrating its PowerNow! power management technology into all future chips.

As for Intel, it will announce a dual-processor Xeon codenamed Irwindale with 2M bytes of L2 cache. IBM says it will unveil five servers based on the new chip, which also includes Intel's Demand Based Switching power management technology that IBM says will complement its Calibrated Vectored Cooling feature, and Execute Disable bit (XD), which provides virus protection at the chip level.

IBM is updating its 226 and x236 tower servers and its x336 and x346 rackmount servers, as well as IBM BladeCenter HS20 blade server with the chip. It says systems will be available by the end of February.

The new Opteron systems from HP, meanwhile, are:

-- The ProLiant BL25p dual-processor blade, available with 2.6 GHz or 2.4 GHz Opteron processors, available at the end of March and priced starting at US$3,399.

-- The ProLiant BL35p dual-processor blade with the 2.4 GHz Opteron processor, also expected to begin shipping at the end of March. It is priced starting at $2,899.

-- The ProLiant DL385, a 2U, dual-processor system with 2.6 GHz or 2.4 GHz Opteron processors, is expected to be available at the end of March and will be priced starting at $2,899.

-- The HP xw9300 Workstation, available now and priced starting at $1,899.

HP also on Monday is expected announce that it will begin shipping new ProLiant Essentials management tools. The ProLiant Essentials Intelligent Network Pack enables servers to dynamically change their network path for improved performance and reliability and includes enhanced virus protection due to HP's new Virus Throttle technology.

In addition, the new HP Power Regulator enables users to monitor and control CPU power according to demands and the new HP Server Migration Pack is aimed at making it easier for users to migrate to virtual servers based on VMware or Microsoft Virtual Server.

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