HP is adding the Integrity BL60p, based on Intel's Itanium 2 processor, to its BladeSystem platform, with shipments scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2006.
The new offering comes as support for the Itanium processor among the four largest server vendors has dwindle to only HP, and as Intel last week revealed that its next generation Itanium 2 processor, code-named Montecito, will be delayed about six months.
"This is a further extension of our vision and our goal of making BladeSystem a common platform IT infrastructure for customers use," says Mark Potter, VP of HP's BladeSystem Group. "It expands our market reach to both x86 and Integrity, and allows us to have both solutions in a common, consolidated infrastructure."
HP has previously offered server blades based on Intel's Xeon processor and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor, both x86-based processors. The BL60p is the first blade to support both the HP-UX 11i operating system and the Itanium 2 processor.
The BL60p will provide customers with greater ability to consolidate IT infrastructures around a blade-server format, allowing them to mix x86 and Itanium blades for end-to-end capabilities, he says. It also will provide an option for customers looking to migrate off Sun servers running a Solaris operating system, Potter says.
Last week Intel announced it was delaying Montecito, its next generation Itanium 2 processor, from the original introduction date in early 2006 to mid-2006. Intel also is scaling back some of the advancements that had been previously disclosed. Montecito will come with a slower front-side bus than had originally been planned and the top-end clock speed has been reduced from 2 gigahertz to 1.6 gigahertz.
Over the past year both Dell and IBM have withdrawn support for Itanium, leaving HP as the only supporter of the processor among the largest server vendors. Other server vendors offering Itanium-based systems include Bull, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Siemens, Hitachi, NEC, SGI, and Unisys.
HP is working to transition all of its RISC server customers to Itanium-based systems. The company has previously announced it will stop offering new Alpha and PA-RISC systems and begin transitioning customers to Itanium-based systems over the next few years.
HP and IBM are engaged in a tight battle for dominance in the blade server space. In October, IBM announced the latest advancement to its BladeCenter product line, the Virtualized Hosted Client Infrastructure platform, which uses blade server technology to deliver computing capability to desktop PCs.