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HP adds new midrange models, lowers 3000 hardware price

Hardware introductions ride a wave of software discounting

Software rebates contribute to cost reductions
Measure your 3000's speed with a new performance unit

HP means to make its customers look twice at price this year while evaluating HP 3000 investments, adding a new low-end model to the 9x9 line at the same time it makes its spring discounts an institutional policy.

The announcements at HP World also included the first HP 3000 powered by the PA-8200 RISC processor, currently the fastest chip installed on HP business servers. The new Series 989 requires MPE/iX 5.5 PowerPatch 5 to deliver its 36-percent performance increase over the Series 979. Down on the low end, a new Series 929 is being offered as the biggest lure yet to draw owners of older 3000s toward the newer iron.

The new hardware introductions signal the end of sales life for the older Series 969 systems without the fat cache processor boards. These are known as the Series 969/100, /200, /300 and /400. HP will stop selling the models as of September 1, realizing the 9x9 product line is too complex to retain all existing models.

New low-end on 9x9s

HP is calling its new Series 929KS/020 a midrange system, but it’s priced at just $20,000 for hardware, before adding MPE/iX and databases. That’s $10,000 less than the Series 939/020. HP reports the new system, which uses a PA-7200 processor, is 18 percent faster than a Series 968. HP hopes to use the newest 9x9 system to encourage upgrades from the upper ends of the 9x8 range.

HP said the 929 uses the same PA-7200 processor as the Series 939 and 969 systems, with its clock speed reduced to 60 MHz. Series 969 systems run at 120 MHz and the 939s run at 72 MHz. The new bottom of the midrange HP 3000s only comes in a single-processor configuration, like its Series 939/020 cousin. But customers can install board upgrades in a 929 to take it all the way to the newest Series 989. HP said the upgrade path delivers a 900-percent performance increase from the lowest end to the 989s.

A Series 929 with 64 users on MPE/iX and an IMAGE/SQL database will cost $72,717, but only if you’re buying one new. Upgrades to this new system will enjoy a special 45-percent rebate off part of that purchase – the cost of bundled software. It’s evidence that HP has begun to institutionalize the discounts of this spring’s upgrade promotion.

“With the box-swap rebate, the 929/020 will be priced similarly to the 968 price prior to August 1,” Snow said, “and get a significant performance increase.”

The arrival of the Series 929 doesn’t signal the departure of the Series 939, Snow added. “We see the 939 as a very attractive price/performance point within the product line,” he said. “Our forecasts show significant sales of the 939.” The 939 runs about one-third faster than the 929 by HP’s measurements. HP means to cannibalize the Series 968 with the introduction of the 929.

Newbeefy top-end to midrange

The new Series 989KS comes in 1-, 2-, 4- and 6-way models, using a 200MHz PA-8200 processor, the fastest chip currently powering HP business servers. The long-anticipated Bravehawk, which customers have been asking for all through July, is supposed to offer “mainframe-level performance” in the midrange form factor, according to HP officials. External I/O card cages, promised last year and now finally arriving for 9x9 customers, will let a 989 site use up to 32 IO slots and 4 IO backplanes.

The system takes its power surge over the the 979’s numbers from bigger caches, which are double the size of the 2Mb located off the 979 processor’s PA-8000 chip. The power ratings of the 989s appear to make HP’s case for the system being considered in a mainframe category. HP’s newest rankings show all the models of the 989 lineup topping Emerald-class Series 997 models with the same number of processors.

HP reduced the number of IO slots in the 989 because it wanted to create space for two extra processor boards. The new processor boards don’t plug into the same space, but they give the 989 a way to provide two more processors than any other system in the 9x9 line.

HP also announced that it’s extending the number of processors for the 997 Series of HP 3000s, effective with the PowerPatch 5 release of MPE/iX. 5.5. These largest HP 3000s will now accept 6-way and 8-way processor configurations thanks to the new software release. HP reported that its new top-end 997/800 HP 3000s would offer 31 percent more performance than the Series 997/500, the previous top of the lineup.

“Our intention for next year is to support 10- and 12-way systems, once we do some tuning in the operating system,” Snow said. HP will populate those extra boards with PA-8000 chips, he added

These 12-way versions of the 997 systems “will continue to eke out a little more performance of the next version of 989,” Snow said. “If you’re looking for that last little bit of performance, the 997 is going to give it to you.” HP will continue to charge “a bit of a premium for the IO expansion in the future” with 99x systems, he added.

Copyright 1998 The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved