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October 13, 1998

THE OTHER IA-64 SHOE DROPS. HP EXTENDS PA

By CBR Staff Writer

Like Intel Corp before it (CI No 3,513), it looks as if Hewlett- Packard Co is not yet ready to bet its entire future on the success of IA-64 and has extended the life of its Precision Architecture RISC microprocessor family. HP said yesterday it would develop PA-8800 and PA-8900 follow-ons to the PA-8700 and PA-8600 parts already disclosed. PA-8700 isn’t due until 2001. That puts PA development some way beyond the point at which HP had originally hoped users would move over to IA-64. We suspect there are two reasons. The first is its huge installed base. Following its user group meeting in San Diego in August, HP must be feeling pressure from customers unwilling to migrate from PA to an unproved architecture and is prepared to continue supplying PA-RISC-based systems for longer than it would have wanted; for as long as a significant revenue stream demands them. The second is that the complexities of IA-64’s EPIC parallel instruction architecture – which HP co-designed – which has thrown initial IA-64 delivery schedules out of kilter, may prove more difficult to implement than originally thought; something the two companies acknowledged last week. It’s sure to have a knock-on effect to McKinley and future IA-64 generations (CI No 3,513). And every additional PA part is one less economy of scale HP hopes to achieve by throwing its lot in with Intel. The PA-8500 will be introduced into new 32-way V-Class servers before year-end running at 440MHz. It’s the PA manufacturered in the 0.25 micron process technology. 360MHz upgrade boards are available for workstations from the beginning of next year. When it said last month that reports of PA-8800 and PA-8900 were figments of competitors’ imagination (CI No 3,474), HP also said there would be a PA-8550 upgrade soon after PA-8500’s introduction. Meantime, PA-8600 is due in 2000 running at 560MHz using the same process as PA-8500. HP said it hadn’t yet decided whether PA-8700 would be done in 0.18 microns. PA-8500 systems board-upgradeable to Merced are due next year. PA-8500 is configured with 1.5Mb cache. HP says it should perform 32 SPECint95 and 52 SPECfp95, well beyond the capabilities of IBM Corp’s recently announced Power3 (CI No 5,309).

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