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HP Asia Pacific invests US$10m in Itanium labs

Lifting the veil of silence, Hewlett-Packard and Intel released the first Itanium processor today in Asia Pacific, however, it will be another long journey before any mass take-up.

SINGAPORE--Hewlett-Packard Co has invested US$10 million to date in Partner Technology Access Centers (PTAC) for the Asia Pacific region.

These PTAC centers have dedicated space with equipment and software engineers to provide assistance to partners and customers in implementing Intel Itanium processor family-based systems.

The Itanium servers are expected to be ready for shipment at the end of June. The workstations will range in price, starting at US$7,500 to $15,000 for i2000 2-way workstation, US$25,000 to $45,000 for rx4610 4-way server and around the several hundred thousand dollar mark for a high end rx9610 16-way server.

Exact prices will be released in the next few days in the Asia Pacific region. PTAC centers are located in Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, Bangalore and Beijing, and satellite centers in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

HP made the announcement today in conjunction with its Service-centric solutions for the next generation conference here.

And lifting the veil of silence, HP and Intel released the first Itanium processor in Asia Pacific. However, it will be another long journey before any mass take-up.

"We’re in the early adopter stage, as we move on with McKinley coming out and Madison coming out, more folks will deploy the systems," HP chief marketing officer of business systems and technology operation worldwide, Roy Vandoorn said.

The 64-bit Itanium chip is the first step in Intel and HP’s efforts to shake up the market for high-end servers, currently dominated by Sun Microsystems.

Speaking today at HP's regional conference today, Vandoorn fired a shot at Sun Microsystems for continuing with traditional Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) architecture.

"Sun has an inferior microprocessor technology.

"They do not understand that Itanium processor architecture will become the next generation processors. The truth of the matter is that Sun just doesn’t get it," Vandoorn said.

Mainly aimed at the developer community, secure socket technology and the tech server space with high computational applications, the Itanium processor will be a test pattern until its successor--currently known as McKinley--is deployed. The first McKinley processors are expected to be available at the end of 2002.

"IT professionals and customers are concerned with keeping their systems up, and they’re going to make changes quickly, so as we go through the target markets we are going to see the evolution happen over time.

"We will be seeing the hockey stick happening in a couple of years from now," Vandoorn said.

According to Gartner analyst Matthew Boon, the real revenue value is at the enterprise level.

"The advantage of HP being the early mover in this area is that it has had the time to fit all the pieces together.

"As more vendors move to Itanium, it will commoditise the enterprise server market. That will be the real effect of Itanium," Boon said.

Commenting on Sun’s resistance to move away from its RISC architecture Boon says, "I think hell will freeze over before Sun plays the Itanium game."

HP is expecting Itanium to be the dominate technology over RISC architecture, which it says it will begin to fade out of the marketplace. However, the development of the Itanium chip could take 15 to 20 years, a similar journey to the RISC chip, which was introduced by HP in the mid 1980’s.

"The introduction of the first generation of processors will come out in the next 10 to 15 years, Itanium is a benchmark," HP said.