HP Embraces Opteron

The move came less than two weeks after Sun Microsystems said it would offer its own low-end Opteron server.

HP's move to embrace Opteron processors, in addition to upcoming Xeon processors with 64-bit extensions recently unveiled by Intel, does not mean HP is changing its server strategy, said Brad Anderson, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Industry Standard Servers Group. "We're still driving HP products on x86 and [Intel] Itanium platforms," he said.


HP expects to ship new Opteron-based ProLiant servers in first half.

HP's decision to embrace Opteron is not so much a play for the 64-bit space, which the vendor will target with Itanium, as it is a move into the higher-performance 32-bit server market, Anderson said. He said the Opteron offering,with its 64-bit extensions, integrated memory controller, HyperTransport processor-to-processor bus and built-in security features,enables HP to target new 32-bit processor applications. Intel's Xeon MP processors have not kept up with Opteron in terms of four-way performance, he said.

Dhruv Gulati, executive vice president of Lilien Systems, a Mill Valley, Calif.-based HP solution provider, said while HP's move could confuse some customers in the entry-level server market, HP has a clear road map on the high end with Itanium.

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Itanium processors are expensive, but the performance they offer is high, making them a good choice for high-end servers, he said. The Opteron and Xeon processors will be mainly for entry-level servers and workstations. "They will be going to two different markets," Gulati said.

HP, Palo Alto, Calif., last week unveiled two Opteron-based servers: The ProLiant DL145 is a two-way, 1U server for high-performance computing Web serving, security and streaming media; and the DL585 is a four-way, 7U server for memory-constrained applications such as databases or Microsoft Exchange. Both servers are expected to ship in the first half of 2004. Pricing was not available at press time.

Later in the year, the company plans to ship a two-way ProLiant blade server with Opteron processors. And during the summer, HP intends to unveil one-way and two-way ProLiant servers based on 64-bit Xeon processors, with four-way and eight-way models expected next year.