HP Amps Up Integrity Server Line With Montecito Processors

Amid its pretexting controversy and board shakeup this week, Hewlett-Packard on Thursday said it has revamped its entire line of HP Integrity servers with more powerful models.

The new machines boast more than twice the performance of the previous generation of HP Integrity servers, according to the company. That is an accomplishment, since IDC already lists HP as the No. 1 high-end Unix system vendor on the market.

HP is tapping the power of the new dual-core Intel Itanium Montecito processor to offer mainframe-caliber high availability with HP-UX 11i, Microsoft Windows, Linux or OpenVMS operating environments in the Integrity rx6600 and rx3600 servers.

The Itanium Question

HP is the only major server manufacturer to provide platforms based on Intel’s Itanium processor. The company’s strategy is to drive down the cost of enterprise computing with mainframe-caliber power in smaller systems.

HP and Intel worked together to produce the chip initially, but HP handed the project over to Intel two years ago. IBM and Dell once offered services based on Itanium, but both of those companies ceased manufacture of their Itanium lines.

“The difficulty of the stigma that surrounds Itanium is that of old iron. It never reached the breakout potential that it once had,” Enderle Group Principal Analyst Rob Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “Itanium was to be the future of Intel. Clearly Intel is now on a different track. When Dell exited, it wasn’t a good sign.”

Sticking It Out

HP is sticking it out with Intel, though, and reports that sales of Integrity servers are doubling every quarter. More than half of the largest 100 businesses in the world use them, and more than 9,000 third-party software products support the platform, according to the company.

“The product has good margins. It sells in low volumes, but it’s a very profitable. It is powerful and reliable. The issue here is the platform just isn’t seen as having a future. I don’t think you could ever call this a hot new product due to [it’s being] Itanium-based, but it does fill a gap at the high end of the market,” Enderle noted.

Microsoft Buys In

HP is not the only technology giant standing with Intel. Microsoft is also showing its support for the Integrity line. In fact, Microsoft is committed to Integrity as a key component of its business strategy of RISC replacement with the Windows platform.

“Microsoft will continue our investment in the Itanium platform and the HP Integrity server line along with Windows Server ‘Longhorn,’ which will optimize for workloads focused on mission-critical high-end applications,” said Bob Muglia, senior vice president, server and tools business, Microsoft.

Later this year, HP plans to add support for Windows to HP Integrity Virtual Machines and allow multiple operating system instances to share a single processor. At that time, HP plans to extend support for HP Integrity Essentials Capacity Advisor and Virtualization Manager to Windows and Linux.

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