HP Backs Intel Westmere EX and Itanium

by Sean Michael Kerner

HP is jumping on the bandwagon supporting the new Intel Xeon E7 chips, but that doesn't mean it's leaving Itanium behind.

Intel this week launched its new Westmere EX family of Xeon chips.

Multiple vendors including Cisco, Dell, IBM and HP are all planning server releases that use the new Intel chips. Unlike every other vendor that is embracing the Westmere EX, HP also supports Intel's Itanium architecture as well.

So, what's the difference between the two Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) architectures and where does HP see them each fitting in?

Mike McNerney, Director, Server Planning and Marketing at HP Business Critical Systems told InternetNews.com, that a primary workload for the Westmere EX systems is database and other workloads that require large processor and memory footprints.

"Customers topping out performance on a MSFT SQLServer database would be an ideal target customer," McNerney said.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) will be including the Westmere EX chips in its ProLiant G7 servers. According to HP, the new G7 servers improve system availability in part by reducing the memory error correction with Double Device Data Correction (DDDC) technology. HP notes in its G7 fact sheet that DDDC provides self-correction of up to two dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) errors and recovery from otherwise fatal system errors.

Mission-critical stability and availability are also key attributes of HP's Integrity service lineup, powered by Intel's Itanium processor.

"Integrity systems are secure and reliable from the Itanium processor, to the system level, and through the software stack," McNerney said. "What differentiates our Integrity systems is not just the Itanium processor, but the hardware, the firmware and the HP-UX operating system, which provide mission-critical advanced resiliency.

McNerney added that HP believes this end-to-end approach is the only way to ensure minimal planned and unplanned downtime.

"With the Intel Xeon E7 (aka "Westmere EX') announcement, Intel is adding new reliability features to Xeon that originated in the Itanium processor," McNerney said. "The Itanium reliability capabilities have been built into Integrity systems for several generations magnifying its impact significantly."

Although the Westmere EX is gaining new reliability features, McNerney noted it's still not the same as what HP delivers with Itanium on HP Integrity servers.

"This hardening and systems-level integration goes well beyond the processor level and is found only in Integrity hardware, firmware and HP-UX environments and does not happen overnight," McNerney said.

HP's Competition

HP also faces competition from multiple rivals that are also offering new Westmere EX based server platforms.

"HP ProLiant servers provide significant innovations on top of industry standards," Dave Peterson, group manager, platform product marketing, industry standard servers and software at HP told InternetNews.com. "Technologies like HP Sea of Sensors, HP Dynamic Power Capping, iLO remote management and HP Insight Control are all unique capabilities that provide significant additional value in areas where customers feel a great deal of pain –- namely energy costs and system management costs. "

Cisco is among the vendors set to debut new Westmere EX based servers with new Unified Computing System (UCS) servers. Cisco's UCS includes extended memory technology that provides additional scalability. Peterson noted that although Cisco may have a couple of benchmarks, customers are voting with their wallets to deploy HP ProLiant and Integrity servers.

"HP is the number one vendor of scale-up x86 platforms with extensive industry leading benchmarks across the different product offerings including memory intensive benchmarks," McNerney added.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Friday Apr 8th 2011
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