|Carrying 3000 growth across the
Wilde is making decisions at the crossroad for the HP 3000. As the section
manager of the 3000 R&D labs whos managing growth projects, Wilde
is overseeing some of the most forward-looking work for the system. His
teams are making the transition from todays PA-RISC processors toward
the systems of the next decade, computers that will be ready to accept
works at this turning point for the 3000s next generation using a
combination of software experience, hardware sensibility, and a little good
fortune. Like his manager R&D chief Winston Prather, Wilde first
encountered the system as a high school student in the 70s in
Wildes case, working at Crawfords Department Store in Chicago
doing data entry on the system. He took his bachelors degree in
Computer Science west to California in 1984 and did his first two years at
HP in the Test and Measurement Organization, where his EE college work was
helpful on a project to create a VLSI IC tester. He made the transition to
software as the R&D manager of the Allbase core and interoperability
project. And eight years ago he entered the HP 3000 division, when Allbase
made the move into the CSY labs with the more pervasive HP database, IMAGE.
Project management and more R&D with some of HPs biggest 3000
accounts led him to his most recent appointment.
Eighteen months ago Wilde was given divisional R&D
section manager duties when the 3000 labs started to grow again, the kind
of job that involves helping very bright engineers stay focused on creating
the next generation of HP 3000. Hearing him describe his work is to listen
to the sound of man who likes making decisions, and you can feel a
willingness to take chances on change. Wilde tells of story of how he
arrived at the California part of HP because of his alma maters good
fortune in a football game.I wound up here because of a football
play, he said of his work in HPs California labs. Illinois had
a highly-ranked football team in Wildes senior year, and he described
a key play in a showdown game to determine a bowl berth.
fourth down the other schools running back battled toward the
scrimmage line. I remember their back sweeping toward the near side
where I was sitting, he says. We had an All-American safety who
came out of the backfield to nail the runner. We took the ball, returned it
for a touchdown and won the game and wound up going to the Rose
Bowl. I came out for the Rose Bowl, and didnt have California as one
of the places I wanted to live. If I hadnt fallen in love with
California and Lake Tahoe on that trip, I probably would have been routed
to Colorado somewhere. The affable managers presence in
Cupertinos 3000 labs is a good turn for the platform as well.
You make some decisions that are pivotal, but hope that it usually
doesnt turn on a football play, he jokes.
Wildes ability to identify details in such turning
points will serve him and his team well in the months to come, as they make
decisions that turn the HP 3000 into its third generation. After seeing him
share previews of coming technologies at this springs IPROF
conference, we asked him for more details on the systems upcoming
you mentioned active projects in CSY to meet up with the rest of HPs
platforms. Will that mean other HP platforms will pilot the implementation
of those designs?
PA-8500 systems, HP Unix will ship earlier. Theres a few parts of
what were doing to help bring that out, like the performance scaling
work. The biggest piece of work is to move our IO system to a PCI
environment. This is a very large, one-time change thats needed for
moving to the new platforms.
re-architect from NIO to PCI, we are for the first time trying to leverage
some of the Unix IO driver technology. If it goes well, we may be able to
do more of this in the future in other areas. Down the road we have high
hopes for standardized IO. We might be able to leverage what were
learning here to future projects such as [bringing the 3000] Fibre
do you standardize IO?
stacks on Unix and MPE are different, in terms of the way they are
modularized. By having well-defined layering, the way you might find
networking in the OSI model, theres a lot of effort in I2O to
standardize those so you could have more off the shelf logic that
you can just plug into your IO systems.
talked about drafting off HPs investments in peripherals. How can
that help the 3000 get some of its shortcomings in those areas resolved,
like DLT library support?
we align with HPs overall direction, the better off we are, and the
better off HPs customers are. We can deliver a lot more to our
customers faster, better and cheaper the more we can leverage. It applies
to everything, from hardware to middleware and even to manufacturing
Sometimes there are trade-offs to consider. Some of the MPE
products add value beyond whats available in other platforms, and our
customers have gotten used to that value, like networking stacks and
features weve built in for reliability. If we went to a more
standardized architecture customers might lose something. Theres a
trade off between standardization, time to market and cost with
functionality. We always have to look at those tradeoffs.
impact are PA-RISC 2.0 versions of compilers going to have on the
platforms growth plans? While last years growth plans pointed
to these versions as bringing more performance, this spring HP said IA-64
versions were now the primary goal.
charts reflect our plans and expectations for where the increases will be
coming from. As we actually prototype and build the different parts of our
roadmap, were measuring the results versus the expectation. In the
case of using the PA 2.0 back-end for our compilers, we found the return on
investment is pretty small. We currently do not plan to make that specific
benefits for some of the other performance work like in the area of
changes in the memory managers MMP disable enhancement, and changes
to the dispatcher, and changes in how we use the Translation Lookaside
Buffer (TLB) actually have a much higher return.
you believe the bulk of the growth work is being done for the 3000
installed base as a primary objective? How does something like memory
capacity expansion to 16Gb help a shop with a modest-sized 3000?
the work were doing in the growth area has to do with performance and
scalability and capacity. That work directly benefits customers at the high
end. Thats true of installed base customers and new customers,
platform buyers and solution buyers.
Indirectly it benefits all customers very profoundly. It
guarantees a scalable platform, which results in more sales, and that in
turn results in more investment we can make, which benefits everybody.
Those enhancements are necessary to make some of the investments in the new
platforms pay off. A lot of the enhancements were making right now
are removing bottlenecks that have started to creep in. Those changes are
necessary to see any benefit from the new processors.
will variable sized pages help improve HP 3000 performance?
dont necessarily, by themselves. It turns out we had an issue we
needed to deal with: over time the TLB size on the chip is getting smaller,
and so we needed to change the way we used the TLB so we dont run
into performance bottlenecks there later.
needed to be able to keep the same amount or more information in the TLB,
used to keep track of frequently used and recently used pages. The changes
weve made are allowing us to make effective use of the reduced TLB
those redesigned page sizes going to mesh into the architecture for
something we needed to do to make sure we could scale as the new chips came
these page size changes the kind of re-engineering that is going to tune
the 997s later this year to retake the lead in the product performance
bit, but theres a lot of different aspects that go into performance
capacity and scaling. Were trying to make sure that our systems in
the midrange and high end scale well. Were still gathering data on
what the performance characteristics will be.
growth projects can you elaborate upon for the 3000s low end? At
IPROF you mentioned that PCI backplanes would be needed to refresh the
3000s entry-level line. Wont that push the refresh further out
into the future?
new systems coming out from here on use PCI as the IO backplane technology.
The change is pretty fundamental and essential. We expect to roll to the
new PCI-based systems on the low end as well. It isnt an optional
thing its required to get the new platforms. It brings us more
in line with HP, but were doing it because we need to.
IPROF you said IA-64 wasnt a big area of focus for CSY. Did you mean
for the coming year or so, or in general?
always need to make sure were balancing immediate customer needs with
investments for the future. For the current calendar year, CSYs focus
is not on IA-64. Our customers are telling us this is really the right
balance. Customers want a long term roadmap that includes IA-64 while
focusing our current R&D on the most critical issues.
to begin looking at the long lead time items like compilers and object code
translation during the next 12 months. Were planning to get a grasp
on whats needed for those.
Modcal, the root language of MPE/iX, get full support under IA-64?
Supporting MODCAL is one of those long lead time items for
Theres been talk about HP having the safety net of
PA-RISC to cover any delays or disappointments in the IA-64 effort. Does
PA-RISC have enough gas left to carry a customer well beyond the 2003 intro
date for the 3000s IA-64?
it does. HP has learned from back in the Spectrum days to evolve into a new
design. The PA-RISC roadmap is always evolving. My personal belief is that
these platforms and chips we have planned should carry our customers well
beyond 2003. As we start looking at the long lead time items for IA-64,
well continue to update the platform roadmap and the timelines.
do you think there have been few 3000 customers and developers requesting
information about IA-64?
Customers and developers are really running businesses, and they
have a lot of issues to deal with. IA-64 is really a future for most people
that theyre monitoring. But they have a lot more pressing issues
right now, like Y2K and the strong economy is leading to a lot of growth
they have to accommodate. I think people have their hands full now. The
idea is to plan long, but execute short.
Whats the latest word on the decision to support
Classic 3000 16-bit code in 64-bit HP 3000s?
looked at this a little bit, but its much too early to say anything
conclusive about it. We need to figure out what the customer needs are and
what makes sense technically as we plan our roadmap.
of your groups work wont be seen for years. How do you keep a
team of engineers close to the customers when results wont be tested
in the field for some time?
A lot of
the work were doing is going to be rolled out in the next six to 24
months. Some of the work in the peripherals area is even closer. The bigger
challenge is keeping close to customer when were doing so much
complex and time-consuming work. Engineers and managers like myself are
consumed with executing, and thats the bigger challenge. Its
not like the platforms wont be delivered for years its
making the time to stay close to the customers.
Weve been pretty successful in attending IPROF, managing
the Customer Advisory Council and HP World. We try to invite customers to
some of the coffee talks we have in the division. We have engineers and
managers do surveys, and we have some consultants in the organization who
work with enterprise customers and partners to connect Solution Teams to
customers to discuss needs directly.
Its been a problem for me. I have so much going on that I
dont have as much time as Id like to visit customers lately. We
havent had a round of customer-focused visits, where we go out and
experience a day in the life of a customer lately. I found those to be the
most useful and insightful. I hope we can do more of this soon.
technical R&D manager, how do you see the shift in the new
customers concerns away from technical details toward solution
there are things that well need to do differently for those sorts of
customers. Were in the process of trying to understand that better
right now. The adjustments will help us target our R&D investment
does the feel of the engineering team for HPs newest 3000 growth
platform compare to the Spectrum project of the middle 1980s? Can you make
teams then and today are very excited about the projects theyre able
to launch. Theres a feeling of momentum, energy and excitement.
Weve hired a lot of people into CSY in the last 12 months. There was
a lot of hiring going on then, too. We brought a lot of new equipment into
the lab. All of this rapid change has been very energizing and exciting.
And its been very challenging and exhausting. Were taking a
more of a phased and building block approach, as opposed to a complete
rewrite of the operating system and everything else back then. We have a
larger installed base now, so we need to make sure its more
a lot of experienced managers and engineers that have lived through the
Spectrum experience. Were really blessed with people who have been
through this and know what to do. This time were taking a pragmatic
approach with people who have been through this kind of change.
there will be more change, now that Harry Sterling is taking on other
duties. Have you felt some of them shift toward you?
participate in our CSY HP 3000 Business Team, and I certainly feel like
were being given a lot of responsibilities and a lot of opportunities
to make decisions. It feels very empowering and interesting. The HP 3000
business has been very healthy, and is much more on the radar screen of HP
now. Ive been spending a lot more time with other partner
organizations, like peripherals and diagnostics. Other HP organizations
have become more supportive of CSY since its become clear that
were really serious about the HP 3000.