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July 19, 1998

HP GIVES MPE SERVERS NEW LIFE WITH MERCED

By CBR Staff Writer

Figuring there’s still life in the legacy systems market – or that convincing users to move off proprietary systems has proven more difficult than it thought – Hewlett-Packard Co is throwing its venerable HP 3000 server series a new lease of life by porting MPE/iX to Merced. The new Merced-based HP 3000 servers will – like IBM Corp’s AS/400 and RS/6000 server lines – utilize the same hardware and subsystems as the HP-UX-based 9000 series servers. They’ll trail the introduction of HP’s Merced Unix servers by some months, and, like the 9000, will be preceded by the introduction of new PA-RISC models that are upgradable to Merced. HP says it has other PA designs, beyond the 8500 and 8700 waiting in the wings. Over time they’ll also be fitted with the ccNUMA distributed shared functionality currently being rolled out into the 9000. The proprietary 32-bit operating system will be fitted with 64-bit features over the next couple of years and an initial full 64-bit MPE/iX should be around in 2000. The 16-bit 3000 series was introduced in 1972, and current – and future Merced systems – will continue to run 16-bit MPE application code. With the introduction of the Merced- based 3000s, HP will also eliminate the price differential with its Unix systems; MPE/iX systems currently cost more than their Unix equivalents. The 3000 servers come bundled with the kitchen sink, like AS/400. The current line is based upon the PA-8200, and support up to eight processors – 12-ways will follow later this year. The 300 servers are not enterprise systems but vertical industry solutions, according to HP. Banner wins recently include British Airway’s cut-price Go venture. HP says its MPE/iX business is growing in the double digits this year, much of the growth in Europe. It claims to have 45,000 customers on service contracts and estimates there are 70,000 boxes out there in total, most of them high-end machines. It claims a third of them are supporting as many as 2,000 users. There are between 400 and 500 MPE/iX applications. Like the transition from HP-UX on PA-RISC to HP-UX on Merced, HP claims MPE/iX applications will not need to be recompiled to run on the new servers, although to wring the most performance out of the boxes it expects most ISVs to do a recompile. The systems will sport the same Windows NT integration as HP-UX boxes. HP says many of its MPE/iX customers had indicated they would move to Unix but that most have postponed that decision in lieu of increased MIS spending on Y2K issues. It says customers have figured the cost of replacing or re-writing applications is prohibitive and have largely decided to stick with tried and tested programs. 3000 series research and development is now undertaken only with the participation of customers, HP says. HP says it will announce new MPE/iX operating system technology and higher-end 3000 systems at its annual user conference in San Diego next month.

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