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HP Runs .NET Datacenter on 64-processor Superdome

Hewlett-Packard Co. is running Windows .NET Server 2003 64-bit Datacenter Edition on a massive Superdome server with 64 processors and 512 GB of RAM, HP and Microsoft announced on Monday.

The HP server is one of a growing number of choices for customers considering highly scaleable Windows-based alternatives to large RISC/Unix machines. For HP, the announcement delivers on a promise to make its massive Itanium systems, which already run its HP-UX version of Unix, available for Windows customers in the Windows .NET Server 2003 timeframe.

HP is leveraging its early lead as a co-developer with Intel of Itanium technologies to drop the largest system yet into the Windows market. In fact, Microsoft on Monday disclosed new scalability limits for Windows .NET Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, that match the capabilities of the HP Superdome server (64 processors and 512 GB of RAM). The Superdome capabilities represent the top-end of HP's move to open its entire Itanium-based product line to 64-bit Windows.

"We are particularly excited about the potential business value of 64-bit Windows combined with our industry leading super-scalar HP Superdome server. With Superdome and Windows, we're anticipating unprecedented levels of performance and scalability that will enable customers to extend Windows further into their enterprise data center," Peter Blackmore, HP's executive vice president of the Enterprise Systems Group, said in a statement.

Unless Microsoft slips in its current schedule to release Windows .NET Server 2003 in April, HP won't have the large systems ready as soon as 64-bit Enterprise and Datacenter editions are available. Although HP is testing Windows .NET Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, on 64 Itanium 2 processors, the computermaker plans to offer the Windows operating system in Superdome on Intel's "Madison" line of 64-bit processors. Madison, the third-generation of Itanium 64-bit processors, is supposed to be available in mid-2003.

"We're targeting these to line up with the Madison release for performance reasons. It really lines up well with the next version of the [Windows .NET] servers," says Lorraine Bartlett, HP's marketing manager for Windows Itanium Processor Family Systems in HP's Industry Standard Server Group.

The Superdome servers will be HP's first large SMP systems for Windows servers. The company then plans to quickly roll out Madison-based, eight-way and 16-way systems for Windows, HP-UX and Linux. The company will also upgrade its existing two- and four-way Itanium 2 servers with Madison chips.

HP joins what is becoming an increasingly crowded sector for high-end systems based on the Itanium family of processors. Unisys is in the process of preparing its 32-processor ES7000 line to ship with Itanium 2 processors and Windows .NET Server 2003. NEC will sell a 32-way Itanium 2 system in the United States when Windows .NET Server 2003 ships. IBM is working on Itanium-based versions of its IBM eSeries xServer 440 systems, which scale to 16 processors.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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