HP refreshes midrange PA, Alpha servers

Utility pricing model

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Hewlett Packard Co today will roll its 875MHz PA-8700+ processor into its core midrange Unix server line. It will also roll out enhanced AlphaServer machines in the line of Unix machines inherited as part of its acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp a few months ago,

Timothy Prickett Morgan writes

The new PA-8700+ chips made their debut at the end of June in HP's 64-way Superdome servers. They offer a 17% increase in clock speed over the 750MHz PA-8700s currently used throughout the former HP 9000 Unix server line. HP is, as expected, rolling these 875MHz chips into its four-way HP Server rp5400 machines (formerly known as the L-class), its eight-way rp7410 machines (a kicker to the former N-class), and its 16-way rp8400 machines (essentially a baby Superdome). The PA-8700+ processors have not yet been rolled into the two-way A-class machines, now called the rp2400s, but it is only a matter of time before that happens. HP is also expected to roll the processors into its workstation line, too.

The 875MHz PA-8700+ processor used in the rp7410 and rp8400 costs $22,000 at U.S. list price. In the rp5400 series machines, the list price is $14,900, according to HP. A base rp5470 with a single 875MHz processors and 1GB of main memory is $36,000. An rp5470 with four of the 875MHz CPUs and 4GB of memory lists for $88,000. These prices include an internal disk and two I/O cards. The base price for an rp7410 with the two PA-8700+ processors and 2GB of memory is $83,000 in the U.S. A bigger configuration with eight processors 8GB of main memory sells for $265,000. A base rp8400 using the new chips with two processors and 2GB of memory costs $110,000. A 16 CPU by 16GB memory configuration of the rp8400 costs $527,000. These machines include an internal disk, two I/O cards, and a DVD drive.

In addition to the faster PA-8700s, HP is rolling out enhancements for its AlphaServer Tru64 Unix server line, formerly owned by Compaq and created by Digital Equipment Corp. (This is like one of those cartoons with progressively bigger fish eating each other.) HP is announcing a new two-way machine, the AlphaServer DS25, which uses the 1GHz EV68 Alpha 21264 processor that is used in the high-end "Wildfire" GS series AlphaServers and several other Alpha machines.

The ES45 four-way commercial server and the SC45 supercomputer node (which comes with larger 16MB cache memories) is also being upgraded to a 1.25GHz EV68 processor. Mark Hudson, worldwide marketing manager for HP's Business Systems and Technology Organization, said that the company already has 2,000 orders in the pipeline for the faster ES45s. HP will also announce today a 1.224GHz EV68 processor for the eight-way GS80, 16-way GS160, and 32-way GS320 Wildfire family of AlphaServers.

Hudson says that the rollout of new AlphaServer products is consistent with HP's plan to continue to push out Alpha technologies as it works its way toward a merged HP-Compaq product line based on 64-bit processors supplied by Intel Corp.

The DS25 68/1000 entry system sells for $24,745 at U.S. list price. This configuration includes one 1GHz EV68 processor, 512MB of main memory, an 18GB disk, dual embedded NICs, dual embedded Ultra3 controllers and a Tru64 Unix license. A two-processor configuration of the DS25 with 2GB of memory and 36GB of disk sells for $40,746. A base single-processor AlphaServer ES45 68/1250 Model 1 entry system using the 1.25GHz EV68 chip with 1GB of memory, 18GB of disk, and a Tru64 Unix license sells for $54,087. An ES45 machine with four 1.25GHz processors and 4GB of memory (plus all the other features in the base machine) sells for $133,240. A base AlphaServer GS80 68/1224 system with one 1.224GHz processor, 1GB memory, 18GB disk, dual 10/100 Ethernet, CD-ROM drive, and Tru64 sells for $91,500; a four processor, 4GB memory configuration sells for $183,500. A base AlphaServer GS160 68/1224 system (same config as the base GS80) costs $254,000, while an 8 by 8 configuration of the GS160 sells for $475,000. And finally, the base AlphaServer GS320 68/1224 system with a single processor costs $564,000, while a 16 processor by 16GB configuration sells for $1,043,000.

HP announces one other nifty thing today: a new utility pricing model called temporary instant capacity on demand (TiCOD). Most utility pricing schemes allow customers to put some extra processors in a box and incrementally and fairly instantly activate extra processor capacity at whim. What none of these COD programs, including HP's Instant Capacity On Demand (iCOD) program allow customers to do is add capacity when they need it, pay for what they use, and then deactivate that capacity when they don't need it. If a customer has a spike, they have to pay for it and keep it. With temporary capacity on demand, which will be initially available on the rp7410, rp8400, and Superdome HP-UX servers from the HP side of the house, will allow customers to buy a block of processing capacity that can be activated and used much as people use phone cards. The excess processing capacity in an iCOD server is converted into a number of minutes that can be activated within a 30-day time period; customers prepay for these processor minutes. As customers use up those minutes, the iCOD capacity is burned up until none is left. Then customers have to buy another temporary iCOD card, so to speak, if they want to access that capacity during peaks.

This iCOD offering, like many of the other utility pricing models that HP has developed, is not available for the AlphaServer line, and probably won't be until elements of the Tru64 operating system are ported to Itanium and collapsed into HP-UX. In other words, if you want this kind of technology, you need to move to HP-UX. HP continues to offer capacity on demand and leasing programs developed by Compaq on the AlphaServer lines.

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