Hardware Today: HP Server Snapshot

Monday Nov 21st 2005 by Drew Robb

Much of HP's efforts the past six months have been spent rolling out dual-core servers and streamlining server platforms, specifically its NonStop line from PA-RISC to Itanium 2 on Integrity.

The big news from HP the past six months has been the roll-out of dual-core servers and the continuation of efforts to streamline its server platforms. Hot on the heels of the consolidation of AlphaServer and HP9000 into the Integrity line, HP followed up this summer with the transition of NonStop from MIPS to Itanium 2 on Integrity servers.

"NonStop has been mainstreamed onto Integrity-based hardware," says Randy Meyer, director of product technology and strategy for HP NonStop. "This reduces HP's portfolio to two server platforms — ProLiant and Integrity."

ProLiant Progress

HP has embraced dual-core technology full bore — particularly among its ProLiant servers running dual-core AMD Opteron processors. Since introducing the ProLiant DL585 and DL145 in May, HP added the DL385 and three Opteron-based dual-core blades.

"We are seeing broad-based adoption of dual-core Opteron servers," says Colin Lacey, director of platform marketing at HP. "More than half the Opteron servers we ship are now dual core."

The ProLiant makeover, however, is not limited to dual core. HP added serial attached SCSI (SAS) to seven ProLiant models and incorporated a smaller form factor hard drive — 2.5 inches instead of the traditional 3.5 inch drive.

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"2.5-inch hard drives will become the standard on all enterprise-class ProLiant servers," says Lacey. "3.5-inch drives will still be available on our entry-level products."

HP touts the ProLiant DL 380 as the world's best-selling server. This 2U machine is flexible enough to be used for a wide range of functions, says Lacy, as a basic infrastructure server, an application server and more. Moving up the server hierarchy, the ProLiant DL 585 is an Opteron-based dual-core box (four processors times two cores) with up to 128 GB memory. Lacey think it is ideal for virtualization. The company has also introduced dual-core blades. The ProLiant BL25p, for example, is available as both a single- or dual-core Opteron system.

Integrity Matters

The Integrity server has come in for almost as many upgrades and shifts as the ProLiant in recent months. In May, HP released the last of its PA-RISC processors for HP 9000 servers. This effectively signals the end of RISC in the HP architecture. Customers can add new Itanium 2 nodes to HP 9000 RISC-based hardware and running both types of processors simultaneously.

"This enables users to get started with the transition to Integrity without having to switch all at once," says Brian Cox, director of server marketing, HP business critical servers. "They can add Itanium 2 processors to their existing PA-RISC gear."

Virtualization enhancements under the Integrity VM (Virtual Machine) moniker permit customers to run multiple copies of HP-UX, Linux, and Windows on soft partitions. This extends down below the single-CPU level (i.e., running more than one operating system instance on one CPU).

In addition, HP extended the range of OpenVMS on Integrity. At the start of the year, it successfully ported OpenVMS from AlphaServer to low-end Integrity servers. Now OpenVMS systems are available all the way up to Superdome class. Like NonStop customers, those not yet on Integrity can add Itanium nodes into their Alpha clusters.

Integrity blades, too, have come on the market. HP just released the Integrity BL60p running HP-UX. It uses the same chassis as HP ProLiant blades, so both can function side by side.

To make the Integrity platform even more attractive, HP has placed considerable emphasis on the cooperation of ISVs. The company added 1,500 applications per year to Integrity in the past two years. This year it should add more than 2,000, for a total somewhere north of 6,000. Cox boasts that this is twice as many as run on IBM POWER. Meanwhile, OpenVMS has more than 500 applications ported to Integrity. Early next year, Oracle will also be available on OpenVMS Integrity. Once accomplished, that will unleash the next wave of ISV porting to the platform.

According to Cox, the best-selling Integrity models — in terms of unit shipments — are the RX2620 (2 socket) and the RX4640 (4 socket). When it comes to total revenue, however, Superdome rules. Superdome is being used extensively for server consolidation, Cox says, as it offers customers the option of running HP-UX, OpenVMS, Windows, and Linux in the same box.

Taking the MIPS Out of NonStop

As mentioned above, NonStop is now part of the Integrity platform. Current NonStop customers on MIPS will be able to buy add-on MIPS processors until 2008 if they wish. Alternatively, they can add Itanium 2 nodes. HP expects most of the user base to make the transition rapidly.

"Most customers are buying Itanium processors rather than adding more MIPS processors," says Meyer. "They can use existing I/O and controllers and just add the latest processors."

Stay tuned for dual core for the masses." — Randy Meyer, director of product technology and strategy for HP NonStop

When it comes to software, customers have two options. They can run their object code as is and have it translated, or they can recompile it to achieve better performance. Those intent on remaining on the old platform as long as possible can receive HP support until 2113. Since a large share of its customer base uses NonStop for mission-critical applications, says Meyer, it is impossible to demand a rapid changeover to Integrity NonStop. Traditionally, NonStop has been strong in Online Transactional Processing (OLTP), stock exchanges, credit card processing, mobile phone networks, and other applications that require fault tolerance and high reliability. Now, HP plans to aim it at a broader section of the market.

"Integrity offers a huge price/performance advantage that will propel NonStop into new markets," says Meyer. "We have multiple customers running Integrity NonStop as it takes availability up to seven 9's."

NonStop systems, however, are not off-the-shelf items. There are three basic configurations, and each is custom configured for customers. The triple modular redundancy (TMR) feature enables systems to achieve seven 9's in reliability. Meyer says 20 customers tested Integrity NonStop during the pre-release phase. Every one of them is buying the system. In addition, a major Japanese telecom company has rolled out dozens of NonStop's across its network.

Future Developments

HP is currently in its "quiet period" before a major earnings announcement. As a result, it is tight-lipped about future releases. But a few items are known. In addition to the move to smaller form factor hard drives and the ongoing migration of AlphaServer/OpenVMS and NonStop customers to Integrity, HP is introducing a full range of Intel dual-core servers.

HP's policy is to use the best of both worlds — AMD or Intel, and not favor one over the other. Expect dual-core Intel processing to be introduced in 1-, 2- and 4-way servers across the full spectrum of price points.

"Stay tuned for dual core for the masses," says Meyer.

HP's Server Lines, a 10,000-Foot View
  Other Servers
Description Industry-standard x86 servers HP Integrity servers based on Intel Itanium-2 processors for HP-UX 11i, Windows, Linux, and OpenVMS
Integrity NonStop server: 24x7 fault-tolerant platform with NonStop OS
HP NonStop S-series server:
24x7 fault-tolerant platform (previous generation to Integrity NonStop server)
HP 9000 servers:
PA-RISC servers for HP-UX 11i
HP AlphaServer systems:
High-performance servers for OpenVMS, Tru64 UNIX, and Linux
NEBS-certified servers for HP-UX 11i v2, Windows, Linux, OpenVMS, or Tru64 UNIX
Processor Type ML Servers:
Intel Pentium 4, Pentium D, Celeron, Xeon DP, Xeon MP
DL Servers:
Intel Pentium 4, Celeron, Xeon DP, Xeon MP, AMD Opteron 800, Opteron 200
BL (BladeSystem) Servers:
Intel Xeon DP, AMD Opteron 800, Opteron 200
Intel Itanium-2 NonStop S-series servers:
MIPS RISC R14000 and R16000
HP 9000 servers:
PA-8900 and PA-8800
AlphaServer systems:
64-bit Alpha EV7z, EV7, and EV68
Xeon, Itanium 2, and Alpha EV68
Processor Range ML Servers: 1, 2, and 4
DL Servers: 1, 2, 4, and 8
BL Servers: 2 and 4
Entry-Level: 1 to 2 and 1 to 8
Midrange: 2 to 8, 2 to 16, and 2 to 32
High-End (Superdome): 2 to 16, 2 to 32, and 6 to 128
Integrity BL Blade: 2
Integrity NonStop server: 2 to 4,080
NonStop S-series servers:
2 to 4,080
HP 9000 servers:
Entry-Level: 1 to 2, 1 to 4, and 2 to 8;
Midrange: 2 to 16 and 2 to 32;
High-End (Superdome): 4 to 32, 4 to 64, and 12 to 128;
HP AlphaServer systems:
Entry-Level: 1 to 2;
Midrange: 4 to 8;
High-End: 8 to 64;
Supercomputer: Up to 4096
Carrier-Grade: 1 and 2
Operating Systems Windows, Linux, NetWare, OpenServer, UnixWare, Solaris, and VMware Entry, Midrange, and High-Level:
HP-UX 11i v2, Windows Server 2003, Linux, OpenVMS
Integrity BL Blade: HP-UX 11i v2
Integrity NonStop server: NonStop OS
HP NonStop S-series servers:
NonStop OS
HP 9000 servers:
HP-UX 11i
HP AlphaServers:
OpenVMS and Tru64 UNIX
HP-UX, Tru64 UNIX, OpenVMS, Windows, and Linux
Servers ML Servers:
ML 150
DL Servers:
BL (BladeSystem) Servers:
Integrity Superdome-32, -64 and -128
Integrity Blade
Integrity BL60p
Integrity NonStop server NS16000
HP NonStop S-series servers
S88000, S7800 and S78
HP 9000 servers:
High-End (Superdome):
HP 9000 Superdome 32-,64-, or 128-way
HP AlphaServer systems:
Entry-Level: DS15, DS25, and TS15 (carrier-grade)
Midrange: ES45, ES47, and ES80
High-End: GS80, GS160, GS320, GS1280, and SC45
Carrier-Grade: AlphaServer TS15 (running OpenVMS, or Tru64 UNIX)
HP cc3310 (running Linux and Windows)
HP Integrity cx2600 (running HP-UX11i,v2 and Linux)
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