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BladeLink HP promoted solutions for banking, convergent telecom and healthcare providers in its introduction of new Integrity blade servers this week, calling the models that will use the Tukwila Intel 9300 chips a foundation for mainframe-class computing.

Blade servers that are hosted in HP's C7000 chassis were introduced at the portfolio announcement Tuesday, part of the vendor's [email protected] customer event in Frankfurt, Germany. The new systems are the single-blade BL860c i2 server, starting at $6,490, the 2-blade BL870c i2 at $13,970, and the 4-blade BL890c i2 whose configurations start at $30,935. The blades' pricing doesn't include storage, but each has double the resource capacity (memory and IO)  of the model below it in the new lineup.

These are servers aimed at companies that need to scale their computing upward in the near future. "When applications outgrow their server, it usually means a new platform," said HP design engineer Shawn Kroeger of the Enterprise Systems Lab in a rollout video (below). KrogerBlades HP calls the designs "scale-up" blades, compact servers that are connected with a crossbar called a Blade Link (shown above) to combine two blade servers to create a single SMP server. Blade Link can combine up to four servers together to connect eight sockets' worth of the new chips. Each blade can contain up to two of the Tukwila processors.

While the Superdome 2 blade servers will not ship until the second half of the year, -- HP's event featured window and door manufacturer Pella promising to deploy the new Superdomes -- the new Integrity blade systems are available immediately. HP says the new 870C i2 is up to nine times more powerful than the previous generation of Integrity blades. The blade system design makes upgrades simpler and conserves datacenter space, something of an issue for the larger customers moving mission-critical apps onto HP-UX from 3000 systems.

The C7000 enclosure also accepts HP's ProLiant blade systems, powered by the latest generation of industry standard processors built up from the x86 Intel family. HP promotes this mix of vendor-proprietary and industry standard processors as a way to combine platforms in a single unit.

The converged hardware is controlled by new HP Infrastructure Orchestration management software. The  online tool provisions and reallocates resources quickly to meet "dynamic business needs." HP has also released a third generation of the Integrity Integrated Lights-Out 3 (iLO 3), a Web-based remote management tool for server setup, administration and maintenance that also optimizes power usage.

The Tukwila processors introduce some new fail-safe features. Cache Safe Technology detects potential cache failures during computation. At the memory level, the Integrity blades provide double chip spare, a hardware feature that HP says "enables 17 times higher reliability than a server with single-chip spare."

Large manufacturers such as Pella were among the target customers testifying at the Integrity rollout. HP also showed video of Bill Keese, senior VP of R&D at manufacturing solution vendor QAD, explaining that his customers "want assurance that, as they grow, they will not outgrow their hardware or software systems." In addition to his testimony that the upgrade path is simplified, he reported that the QAD suite was migrated from an RX 8640 Integrity Server -- a more common high-end choice among 3000 migrators who've already made their move -- to the Tukwila-based servers with no hangups.

"QAD software was compiled on a legacy Integrity RX 8640 server system," he said, using the legacy label to describe HP-UX systems online at migrated 3000 shops. "There were absolutely no stability or compatibility issues encountered when the software was run on the new Integrity system. Prior to testing, we had not seen or touched a next-generation Integrity system. The installation went flawlessly and within a day our application was up and running."

The transformation of Integrity to a bladed platform is a new message from HP. Keese said "HP is moving mission-critical computing to a bladed environment," a form factor that will help the vendor maintain and evolve the Integrity systems at a lower cost than standard rack-based systems already running in migrated sites. The bladed systems, which represent all of the growth of Integrity servers, also tout improved cooling that reduces power bills and "helps our customers remain in their current data centers longer."

By moving the platform's future releases to blades, HP says it can enhance capabilities more easily, including memory, processor enhancements, operating system offerings, partitioning abilities, and field product upgrades. An array of PDF white papers and brochures -- including a Technologies in HP Integrity Server Blades technical overview -- plus video tours of the new hardware, are available at the HP Witness mission-critical computing Web page.