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HP Dusts Off That F8 Chipset It Shelved

HP Dusts Off That F8 Chipset It Shelved

Hewlett-Packard has finally gotten around to using that proprietary F8 chipset that Compaq labored over.

Right before Compaq was sucked up into HP last year, it cancelled the Foster eight-way it had built on the F8, saying that the Intel Foster chip just didn't offer enough oomph to bother with. It said it would wait until the Gallatin Xeon MP chip got here although it had worked for something like three years on the Foster machine (CSN No 452).

Well, Gallatin's finally here and HP is using it and the F8, along with the fancy RAID widgetry Compaq intended for its Foster machine, in two new eight-way servers: a second-generation ProLiant DL760 that Foster was supposed to be in and a new 4U ProLiant DL740. They'll run Windows - HP's thinking a lot about the new upcoming Windows Server 2003 with its heightened addressable memory - and Linux.

The Gallatin chip, which fits in a Foster socket, is hyperthreaded, has a 400MHz front-side bus, twice Foster's cache and can deliver up to 2GHz. The Foster MP chips were good for 1.4GHz-1.6GHz. HP is moving off 760 boxes that use 700MHz and 900MHz Pentium III Xeons.

Intel intended Gallatin to do damage to Sun. That's why it's got a maximum 2MB L3 cache. An eight-way Gallatin server is supposed to be 15% better that a Sun Fire V880 on an SAP Sales and Distribution benchmark. Foster only had a maximum 1MB cache. HP seems to see the 760 and 740 less offensively than Intel. More of an upgrade, according to its eight-way product marketing manager Steve Cumings.

HP says the introductions are part of a server consolidation play and that it will use VMware to extend its partitioning capabilities, theoretically another anti-Sun move.

HP's already got an ProLiant Essentials Workload Management Pack, based on the Microsoft Job Objects functionality in Win2K, which allows multiple applications to run on a single Win2K or 2003 server. Each application has access to specific processor and memory resources so resources can be adjusted as application demands change.

HP had added two other Essential software packs: the free Insight Manager 7 SP2 with an enhanced user interface and Performance Management Pack, which scouts out hardware bottlenecks. Both only work in Windows environments.

HP claims to own 50.7% of the US eight-way market in units although IBM has the edge in revenues, $87 million to $84 million according to IDC. HP says the second-generation 760 does 115,025 transactions a minute (tpmC) at a price/performance of $7.69 (soon to be $7.57) per tpmC.

HP lays much of the performance gain to the F8, a descendent of Intel's hard-won Profusion chipset that Compaq contributed to, which combines PCI-X I/O, gigabit Ethernet, Ultra3 SCSI and the Xeon MP chips.

The hot-plug RAID memory - supposedly a first in Intel machines - uses a redundant array of standard dual in-line memory modules for fault tolerance and the ability to expand memory capacity without downtime. It'll tolerate hot-replace and hot-add.

The 760 starts at $25k for four 1.5GHz processors; the new 760 at $28k. The Workload Management Pack runs $500 per server. US licenses for the Performance Management Pack are estimated to run $99 per monitored server.

IBM, which claims a record $6.76-/tpmC, better than HP's numbers, beat HP to market with a Gallatin x440 eight-way, along with assorted four-ways and promised 16p support this quarter. The F8 can't expand to 16 processors, but HP claims the 32-bit 16-way market is awfully small. It intends the 64-bit Itanium to pick up the bigger boxes. IBM is currently steering clear of Itanium 2 (CSN No 486).

The 760 is available now; the 740 should be out in 30-45 days.

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More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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