By William Fellows
In May Hewlett-Packard Co will begin selling a server code-named Prelude using its PA-RISC that can be upgraded via a board-swap to use Intel Corp’s IA-64 chips when they become available sometime next year. Also known as N4000, the mid-range multiprocessor will use HP’s PA-8500 RISC and marks the beginning of HP’s migration to the IA-64 architecture it co-designed with Intel. Prelude is the follow-on to HP’s mid-range K-Series, which is estimated to account for 60% of the company’s Unix server revenue. Prelude uses a new system bus designed to support PA- RISC and IA-64 which the company has previously referred to as Stretch (CI No 3,309). HP confirmed that additional work on the HP-UX operating system it runs caused it to push Prelude’s announcement from March to April. Over time, HP is also expected to include technology that enables other servers to be upgrade to IA-64. The high-end V-Class and low-end D-Class are reckoned to account for around 20% each of HP’s Unix server revenue. The Unix server business is estimated by Salomon Smith Barney to account for 10% of HP’s total revenue. The company’s enterprise computing group is reckoned to generate $15bn and employs 44,000. HP is also adding 250 people to its 2,200-strong direct sales force so it can compete better with Unix server rival Sun Microsystems Inc. The new high-end V-2500 should be shipping in volume by the end of this week. Initially a 32-way system, the system also supports a ccNUMA architecture developed by HP’s Convex Computer Corp unit which will enable users to scale systems to 128 CPUs when it becomes available next month. New clustering functions due in April will allow up to 2,048 processors to be linked. HP does not plan to offer IA-64-upgradeable workstations but will instead sell PA-RISC and IA-64 workstations in side by side.