MAKER OF EXPENSIVE PRINTER INK HP has unveiled a roadmap to meld its Itanium based Integrity servers with x86 systems in order to deliver a unified mission critical architecture.
The plans, dubbed "Project Odyssey" will see HP introduce Intel Xeon-based blades for its Superdome 2 system enclosures as well as bringing some features from its Integrity platform to the mainstream C-class Bladesystem enclosures to beef up the mission critical capabilities of Windows and Linux.
HP said the move is about offering greater choice to its Integrity customers, who are increasingly looking at moving workloads to Windows and Linux as a way of reducing costs.
Some observers might interpret it as another nail in the coffin of the ill-fated Itanium processor.
However, when we spoke to HP it denied that Odyssey is the first step towards migrating its Integrity platform from Itanium over to x86, and said it will not offer an x86 version of the HP-UX operating system.
"None of the existing published roadmap commitments from HP on HP-UX or the future of the Integrity platforms will be changed as a result of this announcement," said Mark Payne, VP of HP's Business Critical Systems (BCS) in EMEA.
He said that instead, HP is offering customers more choice and innovation going forward.
"What we're saying to Integrity customers is that If you so choose, you can move to a more Linux-based or Windows-based world, and we will offer you investment protection by using your existing infrastructure, but running on x86 blades," Payne said.
The Xeon-based blades for HP Superdome 2, codenamed Dragonhawk, will provide customers with 32-socket x86 systems capable of scaling to hundreds of cores and able to support complex mission critical workloads, according to HP.
Furthermore, customers will be able to continue to run HP-UX workloads on Itanium blades while simultaneously running Windows or Linux on Xeon blades in the same Superdome enclosure.
Meanwhile, the new Xeon blades for HP's C-class chassis, codenamed Hydralynx, will bring some of the mission critical Integrity features to these systems and come in two-socket, four-socket and eight-socket variants.
Mission critical features include HP's Analysis Engine for x86 processors embedded into the system firmware for recovery from system failures.
In addition, HP said it is working with Microsoft and Red Hat to make Windows and Linux better suited to its mission critical platforms.
"We're doing things like taking some of our IP from HP-UX and dropping it down to kernel.org to enhance Linux," Payne said.
The first milestone on the Odyssey roadmap will be to bring HP's Serviceguard failover technology to Linux sometime in 2012, he indicated.
The Dragonhawk and Hydralynx blades will come some time afterwards, with exact delivery dates to be determined, he added.
Despite HP's denial, it seems likely that its move to support x86 in its Integrity systems is a reaction to continuing uncertainty over the future of Itanium processor systems.
The feud between HP and Oracle was re-ignited earlier this week, when Oracle accused HP and Intel of a secret deal to keep Itanium alive. HP later told The INQUIRER that it did have a development contract with Intel.
Oracle's implication is that Intel would have killed Itanium by now under normal circumstances. µ
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