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3000 emulator heads into beta on i7 PCs

Stromasys has announced that its Zelus project, launched to create a virtual version of the HP 3000, "has achieved its goals." The company issued a brief press release today in advance of the first public exposure of its emulator at this weekend's HP3000 Reunion. Stromasys reminded the market that HP 3000 is more than 30 years old, although the emulated systems are from the HP Precision Architecture era which started 24 years ago.

It only seems that long that the community discussed the holy grail of an emulator. It's been long enough that Zelus is now the name of the project that created "the CHARON-HPA/3000 virtual system." HP changed naming conventions three times while it created its Itanium processors, so a single name shift seems minor. "After multiple years of development, the CHARON-HPA/3000 virtual system executes the unmodified MPE/iX operating system, its applications and even HP 3000 hardware diagnostics on an industry-standard server. The CHARON-HPA/3000 virtual platform has been released in Beta test on September 7."

“The power and versatility of our CHARON virtualization architecture clearly demonstrates that users of business critical legacy HP 3000 systems have now a very compelling alternative to a costly and lengthy migration” said Robert Boers, Corporate Technology Officer and Founder of Stromasys. The company's statement reminds the 3000 community that Stromasys has a heritage of emulation in the Digital market, where that CHARON brand is better known. "The decision last August to transfer the results of our Zelus projects into product development has rapidly resulted in a new member of our CHARON virtual system architecture," Boers stated, architecture "proven in an installed base of over 4,000 virtual VAX and Alpha licenses worldwide.”

The product requires, "at minimum, a dedicated 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 system with 8 GB of memory." The virtual system emulated is an A400 Class HP 3000, presumably one that does not have its processing power hamstrung as was done to HP's A400s. Perhaps most significantly, the emulator requires the 7.5 version of MPE/iX. Upgrading a 6.5 or 7.0 license to 7.5 "is a matter of HP," a company document stated.

The new HP 3000 product is set to launch in January. Stromasys described it as "a virtual version of an HP e3000-A400 server, executing the unmodified MPE/iX operating system, database and customer applications on a standard Intel/AMD server or as a VMware client. With a simple re-installation of the software, not requiring code or data conversion, the longevity of MPE/iX customer applications is guaranteed, without significant migration costs. For more information, go to" The company has also made a Q&A PDF available online.

The emulator will "install itself on 64bit I86 hardware with its associated Linux package (Ubuntu or Fedora), that remains hidden below the virtual machine. At startup of the software, you will get control of the virtual HP 3000 console. The same process takes place if you install CHARON- HPA/3000 as a virtual client in VMware. The Linux kernel has some facilities to configure host system mapping, for instance the assignment of the Ethernet adapter."

Direct support for tape devices from an HP 3000 is coming in a later release, according to the company, during Q2 of 2012. A single-CPU configuration leads off the product line, but multiple-CPU models are in the works. The first version of the product "provides the functionality of HP 3000 hardware, but not yet the performance. This is the next step in the CHARON-HPA/3000 development process. That is far simpler than the functionality development."