Newer 3000s come at low cost vs. downtime
May 5, 2017
Earlier this week a 3000 site worked through a system halt by replacing Series 918 memory sticks. Ultimately the problem was resolved with newer memory, but a full replacement of the server might have been just as easily obtained. The relative performance of 3000s sold across the years becomes a factor in this sort of support equation. A manager might find themselves poring over a chart like the one at left (click for details of the A-Class comparisons to older 3000s.)
HP was never much motivated to benchmark its 3000 line against the rest of the world's business servers. However, customers about to upgrade were able to define the relationship between the boxes in the lineup. HP used a 1.3 HP 3000 Performance Unit rating for its Series 42 HP 3000 classics, the pre-RISC range of models before MPE/XL. Most customers consider a Series 917 to be the bottom of the PA-RISC line, and that server earns a Performance Unit score of 10.
The tables and rating sheets were printed by HP until 2004. For example, here's one of the last, a page from the HP e3000 Business Servers Configuration Guide. The ultimate generation A-Class servers start at a 17 and make their way up to an 84. The N-Class computers start at 100 and build up to 768. In general, an A-Class with a 200 at its model tail end will be faster than what is being replaced from anything that's not an A- or N-Class.
Even in 2017, these numbers can matter. A Series 918 will be approaching age 23 by now, first manufactured in 1994. An A-Class server is at most 15 years old. Replacing 9x8s with A-Class servers can be a way to delay replacing HP's 3000 gear altogether. Rejuvenation like this is not a long-term solution, but a manager might be in between the rock of aging iron and the hard place of frozen software licenses.
Used A-Class or N-Class servers can add reliability for customers who must homestead. Even the ones selling for $2,000 are a lower cost to avoid downtime than a search for 25-year-old memory components.
AICS Research, the software company that developed the QueryCalc 3000 app and the QCTerm freeware terminal emulator, created the most direct comparison tool back in the middle of the 2000s. Even though AICS has closed its website, the data lives on across the 3000 universe's webpages. 3k Ranger owner Keven Miller posted a link to his copy of the AICS data.
What HP's 3000 performance rating means can be debated. At HP World in 2002, HP announced the final new 3000 systems, all based upon the PA-8700 processors. At the high end HP announced a new N-Class system based upon the 750 MHz PA-8700 processor. The new N4000-400-750 was the first HP e3000 to achieve an MPE/iX Relative Performance Units (MRPU) rating of 100; the Series 918 has an MRPU of 1.
HP contends that the MRPU is the only valid way to measure the relative performance of MPE systems. In particular, they maintain that the MHz rating is not a valid measure of relative performance, though they continued to use virtual MHz numbers for systems with software-crippled processors. For example, there are no 380 MHz or 500 MHz PA-RISC processors. Unfortunately, the MRPU does not allow for the comparison of the HP e3000 with other HP systems, even the HP 9000s and Integrity servers.
HP has changed the way it rates systems three times over the life of the HP 3000. During the middle years, the Series 918 was the standard with a rating of 1. In 1998, HP devised a new measurement standard for the systems it was introducing that no longer had the Series 918 at 1. It is under this new system that the N4000-400-750 is rated at 100. Applying a correction factor, AICS Research has rated the N4000-400-750 at 76.8 relative to the Series 918’s rating of 1.