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HP offers fault-tolerant blade server

Move lowers cost of NonStop technology

HP is making its NonStop fault-tolerant technology available on a blade server.

The fault-tolerant technology is usually used in high-end, mission-critical systems widely used by banks, telecommunications providers and government emergency services for online transaction processing. Putting it on a blade server will significantly lower the cost of using this technology, said HP.

An application on a NonStop system will run simultaneously, for instance, on two processors operating in sync; if one processor fails, the system is designed to ensure that the workload is shifted to the other processor without missing a beat. NonStop systems, which can scale up to 4,000 processors, can support triple redundancy as well.

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Martin Fink, SVP and general manager of HP's Business Critical Systems group, said the goal is to make its mission-critical technology available on lower-cost hardware. This new hardware offering is part of a broader strategy called "business critical and volume economics" that will be a major focus of the company at the conference this week.

Fink calls it a "mainframe-class system" on blades that "will allow customers to have significantly more performance at significantly less (hardware) footprint, and much lower cost for the overall system on a price-performance basis".

The new hardware, which will be called the Integrity NonStop BladeSystem or the NB50000c, is due to ship this month. HP says the performance and energy efficiency of the Itanium-processor blade hardware will reduce the cost of a transaction by half. NonStop systems have their own operating system, the NonStop Kernel or NSK. HP moved the platform to Itanium in 2005.

HP intends to eventually allow users to mix blades running systems other than NonStop in the NB50000c. Users could, for instance, add blades running Windows and Linux. New capabilities will gradually be rolled out, and Fink says the company expects to make further announcements in six-to-nine months.

NonStop was developed by Tandem Computers, which was later bought by Compaq. HP acquired Compaq in 1982.

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