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Unisys Drops Hints of Next CMP

Unisys Corp. is beginning to drop crumbs of information about its next generation of cellular multiprocessing (CMP) systems.

Unisys unveiled the technology in late 1999 under the brand name ES7000. CMP powers the only systems currently capable of running Windows 2000 Datacenter Server on more than eight Intel processors. Systems built on Unisys’ CMP technology are being sold by Compaq, Dell, HP, Hitachi and ICL.

Peter Samson, vice president and general manager of Unisys technology sales development, says the next generation of CMP is at least one or two years away. It will maintain the current generation’s capabilities of running both 32-bit processors and 64-bit processors.

“Our intent is as long as there is a viable 32-bit world, the CMP will support 32-bit processors,” Samson says. “We believe that 32-bit apps are going to be strong through 2004, maybe 2005.”

Unisys has already made the decision to support Intel’s next generation of Xeon 32-bit server processors, code-named Foster, in the current CMP systems, Samson says.

At this point, Unisys could go either way on McKinley, Intel’s second generation 64-bit processor: either retrofitting existing CMP systems to support McKinley or reserving McKinley support for the next generation CMP

 “Right now that’s a question that’s being discussed within our engineering groups,” Samson says.

Another open question is how large the next system will be. Currently CMP systems max out at 32 processors, which is also the processor limit for Microsoft’s Datacenter Server operating system.

“We certainly could [go to 64 processors under the architecture], but we have not made the decision yet,” Samson says. “We currently have no plans to go beyond 32 processors until there is an operating system that can take advantage of that.”

Microsoft has not yet disclosed the upper limit of SMP scalability in the Whistler version of Datacenter Server.

Unisys is currently focused on convincing OEM partners to stick with the CMP architecture for another generation. Compaq and Hewlett-Packard, for example, could conceivably develop competing architectures for greater-than-eight-way computing on industry standard platforms.

“We want to be able to show Compaq and others that we have the technology that will make them successful in the years to come,” Samson says. “What we are planning to do is to convince them that we’re ahead of the game today, and in two years time we’ll still be ahead of the game.”

Those and other OEM partners are key to Unisys’ goals of volume sales for the platform. So far Unisys has shipped 320 CMP systems, mostly through its own sales efforts. But OEM sales are key to Unisys’ goal of outselling the Sun UE 10000 systems, which have moved at a 500-per-quarter clip.

“That is so dependent on the success of especially Compaq and Dell, who we believe are going to be the aggressive OEMs in this space,” Samson says. Scott Bekker

 

See also:

ENT’s in-depth look at the ES7000 system

Unisys Benchmarks ES7000

About the Author

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

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