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October 7, 1999

HP Details 8600 Update of PA-RISC Family

By CBR Staff Writer

Hewlett-Packard Co has now officially introduced the new PA-8600 it’s been talking about all year, although full volume shipments won’t be out until the first quarter of next year. That’s still well ahead of its original plans to ship the 8600 in mid-2000. The 8600 increases the clock speed of the current 8500, introduced last December, from 440MHz up to 555MHz, using the same .25 micron process. It also includes some new caching algorithms. The result is a 25% increase in frequency, and a 38% performance increase, according to HP. That puts the 8600, with a SPECint rating of 38 and SPECfp rating of 56, ahead of the current top performer, the 700MHz Alpha 21264, according to HP.

Given its close similarity to the 8500, systems using the new chip are expected to follow almost immediately on shipments, with a rapid refresh of the whole HP product line. HP continues to develop the PA-RISC line as an insurance policy against problems with or a slower-than-expected transition to Itanium (aka Merced), the 64-bit architecture it’s working on with Intel Corp. Staff are already working on the 8700 (expected in 2001) and 8800 (expected in 2003) iterations, with an 8900 also penciled in for the following year. The 8700 will feature more extensive changes to the architecture than the 8600, and should see a shift to .18 micron process, clock speeds up to 720MHz, and higher levels of integrated cache.

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