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New 16-Way Itanium System Won't Support Windows Yet

Hewlett-Packard Co. went public on Tuesday with the third Intel architecture server thus far built for more than four 64-bit Itanium processors.

HP calls its new server the HP Server rx9610. It supports up to 16 processors and will be available in August.

Despite the industry standard Intel architecture and a new multi-OS server marketing campaign, the new server will initially only ship with HP's own HP-UX flavor of Unix.

"It's more likely that people looking for eight- to 16-way system are looking at some of the benefits of [HP-UX] systems," says Jean-Jacques Ozil, worldwide marketing manager for HP's Network Server Division.

HP will sell a smaller 64-bit server with up to four processors, the HP Server rx4610, with the user's choice of HP-UX, 64-bit Linux or 64-bit Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition.

Ozil says HP plans to make the 16-processor systems available on Windows and Linux when the market is ready for it. "We have no committed date at this point," Ozil says.

The segmenting decision follows HP's recent decision to reverse course on reselling Unisys Corp.'s 32-processor ES7000s, which can run 32-bit or 64-bit Intel processors.

In both cases, whether the market is ready or not, HP can protect HP-UX revenues by discouraging early adopter customers from installing high-end systems with Windows 2000 Datacenter Server or 64-bit Windows.

HP, Unisys and NEC Corp. are the three companies that have gone public so far with large systems that run Itanium processors. NEC also has a 16-processor system, which is planned for sale in Asia.

Most servers announced so far for the Windows and Linux end of the 64-bit Itanium market are four-processor systems. Along with HP's four-way, Dell announced one last week, IBM unveiled one today and Compaq demonstrated one code-named "Blazer" at WinHEC in April 2000.

HP officials say the real high-end Windows market will develop when Intel ships its second-generation 64-bit processor, McKinley.

The company is working on financing programs to encourage customers to test 64-bit Itanium systems now and graduate to McKinley systems later.

One financing program allows a buyer to make payments on an Itanium system over a year or 18 months. "That's to make sure that ISVs and early adopters are not just looking at the price tag and saying, 'I wish I could but I can't,'" Ozil says.

Another financing program is a financial incentive to help customers who buy Itanium upgrade to McKinley, he says.

About the Author

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

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