HP Launches HP-UX for Itanium 2

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted May 19, 2003

Hewlett-Packard has launched its HP-UX operating environment for Intel's Itanium 2 architecture with the release of HP-UX 11i v2. The release was accompanied by announcements that at least 40 independent software vendors (ISVs) are on board with the move to the new platform, culminating an 18-month-long effort to bring the UNIX operating system to Itanium.

Hewlett-Packard has announced the launch of its HP-UX Unix operating environment for Itanium 2, a release that represents the culmination of efforts to bring over 40 ISVs' offerings to the architecture, includes new security features, and introduces a runtime environment for Linux Itanium applications.

In an interview, HP-UX Marketing Manager Mike Wardley said the release reflects that, after three major revisions, Itanium is proving itself as a "tried and tested" architecture. "There's a bit of maturity creeping in here," he said.

Frank Brown, director of HP's Itanium partner development, concurred, noting that the last nine months have involved intensive involvement with business ISV's who have been preparing their software for HP-UX on Itanium. Some prominent names include Oracle, bea, Borland, and ActiveState. Brown said the company will announce a "broad range" of server platforms based on the architecture/OS combination over the next 60 days.

Brown also spoke about the extensiveness of HP's effort to bring ISVs on board with the new combination, noting that the primary ISV's announced today required some support from a much more extensive list of approximately 250 secondary ISVs who provide needed components.

According to Brown, though the source code used for applications running under HP-UX is 100% compatible between HP's PA-RISC architecture and Itanium systems, it still needs to be recompiled and retested. Brown said that process requires "substantial effort" that can take "anywhere from a couple of months to maybe three or four months." He added that the shift is more akin to the launch of a new operating system than a porting effort. Brown also noted that translation software is available for software that has yet to be fully supported on the Itanium platform, though he said it involves performance penalties and is best for infrequently used programs.

Wardley noted the release in the context of a broader shift from the PA-RISC architecture to Itanium, and said that the Itanium version of HP-UX is "functionally equivalent" to its PA-RISC cousin. According to Wardley, HP will allow for transfer of licenses between the architectures, and that HP's design plans include upgrades from PA-RISC to Itanium within existing systems.

According to Wardley, key improvements in the new release include support for Itanium's built-in encryption algorithms, which he described as "lightning fast" when used in conjunction with security-oriented software like SSL, which is used to encrypt Internet transactions. He also said the new release is more secure at install time.

In an announcement, HP listed several other new features, including extended support for Gigabit Ethernet and Gigabit Fibre, utilization of Itanium's extended virtualization capabilities via the HP-UX Partition Manager, enhanced Oracle9i RAC environments, and two new security installation tools that allow adminstrators to pick a general security posture at install-time. It also includes a Linux Runtime Environment for binary compatibility with Itanium-based Linux applications.

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