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HP Wants x86 to Be NonStop

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted November 4, 2013


HP is continuing to breathe new life into NonStop with the expansion of the platform to x86 servers.

NonStop is an HP server operating system technology that has its roots back in Tandem Computers, which originated in 1976. Tandem was acquired by Compaq, which in turn was acquired by HP in 2005.HP Project Odyssey

Randy Meyer, Vice President and General Manager, Integrity Servers at HP, told ServerWatch that this is the first time HP has announced plans to extend HP NonStop to x86.

"Previous generations of NonStop servers have used custom VLSI and MIPS microprocessors, and current Integrity NonStop servers use Intel Itanium chips, which continue to be available and enhanced," Meyer said.

HP first brought NonStop to Itanium in 2005. The platform was most recently expanded in August of 2012 with the entry-level NS2100 NonStop servers.

As to why HP is now bringing NonStop to x86, Meyer explained that it's all part of HP's Project Odyssey, which is HP’s strategy to unify UNIX and x86 server architectures to offer mission-critical customers the greatest availability, performance and choice.

"In the market we are seeing increased trends for convergence, which is driving the need for mission-critical capabilities on x86, in addition to the continued demand for Itanium," Meyer said. "Based on the technology capabilities as well as the condition of the market, we expect customer adoption of the platform to happen over the next several years."

HP's approach to bringing NonStop to x86 isn't leveraging any type of abstraction or virtualization hypervisor. Meyer said that the NonStop OS will run directly on the microprocessor.

The first new NonStop servers for x86 are the NonStop BladeSystem NB56000c and the HP Integrity NonStop BladeSystem NB56000c-cg.

"Since the blades use the same standard c-class chassis, customers get significant performance improvements in the same footprint," Meyer said. "They also get complete investment protection – the same power, cooling, enclosure, storage, and I/O are supported, along with being binary-compatible at the software level, making it easy for customers to take advantage of the improved price-performance."

Workloads

Meyer explained that NonStop runs mission-critical transactional workloads around the globe, powering infrastructure that’s expected to be always-on and always-connected. Examples include retail card processing for over 500 payment networks worldwide that process trillions of dollars of payments from debit cards, credit cards, point-of-sale transactions, loyalty cards and gift/stored value cards. NonStop is also used for mobile/wireless device management for over 375 million subscribers worldwide.

Moving forward, Meyer said HP will continue improving the performance and reliability of the HP NonStop as development progresses in extending the platform to x86.

"Our goal is to provide our mission-critical customers with the right compute resources for the right workloads, all with the highest system uptime," Mayer said.


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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