HP To Roll Out New AMD-Based Servers

The new products show HP putting more investment in leveraging AMD Opteron processor technology alongside competitor Sun, who is betting big on AMD as its only third-party chip provider. IBM, meanwhile, continues to take a wait-and-see approach to adding more hardware to its limited Opteron-based server line.

In conjunction with AMD's announcement of a new 252 and 852 x86 chips—expected to be made at Linuxworld on Monday—HP will introduce the ProLiant BL25p and BL35 two-way blade servers, said James Mouton, vice president of platforms for industry standard servers for HP.

Only the BL25p, a full-height blade, will be available with the new 252 processor, while the BL35p, half the height of the BL25p, will run on AMD's 250 Opteron processor. The BL25p also will be available with a 250 processor.

Pricing for the BL25p starts at $3,399, while pricing for the BL35p starts at $2,899. In addition to the new blades, HP will roll out its first workstation, the XW9300, which will run on AMD's 200 series Opteron processors.

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HP also will introduce an Opteron-based version of its most popular two-way Xeon-based server, the ProLiant DL380, Mouton said. The new server, the DL385, has been added to the Opteron line because of customer demand for a mainstream Opteron box, he said. Pricing for the DL385 starts at $2,899. HP also offers the low-end ProLiant DL 145 on Opteron.

All of the new HP servers will run either SuSE or Red Hat Linux or Windows and will be available by the end of March.

As HP beefs up its AMD strategy, Sun also is getting set to announce its next-generation Opteron servers, a project called Galaxy, which will replace its current line of Opteron products.

The new Galaxy servers, the result of work Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim has been doing since he returned to Sun a year ago, will include eight-way Opteron servers on dual-core chips, as well as two-way and four-way servers.

IBM plans to support the new Opteron chips as well by shipping its e326 two-way Opteron server supporting the 252 chip in early March, said Tim Dougherty, director of IBM eServer BladeCenter marketing. IBM also is planning to update its Opteron workstation, the A-Pro IntelliStation, with the 252 chips, but did not state a time frame for the upgrade.

The e326 and workstation are the only two Opteron products IBM currently ships, and the vendor has not announced plans to add products to the line, Dougherty said. "It depends on what the marketplace tells us," he said.

However, both HP and IBM are both interested in capitalizing on Sun's recent plan to phase out its current line of blade servers in favor of next-generation products that won't be out until 2006. Last month Sun discontinued the Sun Fire B100 and B200 blade servers and will stop taking orders for them at the end of March.

"You can't be going in and out of the blade market," said Paul Miller, vice president of marketing for HP ProLiant and BladeSystem at HP. "People are looking for an infrastructure that has longevity."

Both Miller and IBM's Dougherty said they have seen a lot of business from customers that are migrating from running Solaris on Sun's blade servers to running Linux on HP or IBM blades.