It's an important launch event for HP. The company is by far the biggest seller of Itanium systems, and it is having to having to battle a perception that Itanium is a platform in decline, especially after Microsoft and Red Hat said they would stop developing new OSes for the 64-bit processor. Microsoft cited the increased capabilities of 32-bit Xeon-based systems.
Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight64, said Windows and Linux are not as widely used on Itanium servers. And customers already running applications on HP-UX are likely to stick with it rather move to a different platform, such as IBM's Power-based servers, he said.
"As long as HP continues to come out with products that are more or less in the ball park compared with what IBM is doing, I think their customers are going to stay true to
them, just as IBM customers will stay true to them," Brookwood said.
Whether HP can attract new customers is another matter. Burton Group's Simpson thinks it is unlikely, given the lower cost and improved performance of Xeon-based systems.
"Try as you might, it's hard to see anything other than steady decline" for sales of Itanium-based servers, he said. "Whether that decline is a nice gentle slope over the next 10 to 15 years or a precipice two years from now remains to be seen."
HP hasn't released performance data yet to show how Superdome 2 stacks up against IBM's Power7 servers, Brookwood said. "That's clearly going to play an important role here," he said.
While Superdome 2 might not ship for six months or more, the three new Integrity blades are available now. HP's new Blade Link technology, based on Tukwila's high-speed QuickPath Interconnect, allows four blades to be snapped together in what HP considers a single, eight-socket system. That server, the BL890c i2, starts at $30,935. There is also a four-socket system that starts at $13,970 and a two-socket system for $6,490, HP said.