The two faces of HP

— 4:00 PM on February 26, 2004

We covered the announcement of HP's Opteron servers, already, but there was a second press release that day, which you may find here. It discusses HP's "move into the x86 extensions arena" in a rather interesting fashion. If you read the press release carefully, it discusses the Opteron server announcement, followed by HP's "plans to roll out Intel Xeon 64-bit extensions." However, the two statements are written so that they appear unrelated. The word Xeon is used eight times in the press release (not counting the copyright information) and five of those occurrences are immediately followed by a reference to 64-bit extensions, while the other three share paragraphs with one of the five.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a conscious effort to deemphasize the 64-bitness of the Opteron. Check out this quote:

"The introduction of AMD Opteron processor-based ProLiant servers, the continuing innovation of Intel Xeon processors with x86-64 extensions and the broadening of the scalable Itanium product family provide HP customers a solution portfolio that runs the breadth of the server market, including Windows, Linux and UNIX environments on both 32-bit and 64-bit servers."

If someone were familiar with Itanium and not Opteron, the implication here would seem to be that the Opteron is 32 bits, because they're talking about "both 32-bit and 64-bit" and if Itanium and "Xeon processors with x86-64 extensions" are 64-bit, what does that leave? The fact that they don't mention Itanium's 64-bitness doesn't wash; it's not one of the topics of the article like the Opteron. In fact, the only direct link between the Opteron and 64 bits I could find in the entire press release was a quote from an Oracle VP, who said "Oracle, in addition to supporting the Xeon and Itanium platforms, is committed to supporting the 64-bit AMD Opteron platform." Apparently Craig Barrett is moonlighting in HP's marketing department.

But if the press release taketh away from AMD's accomplishments, the benchmarks giveth back. Take a look at this document which details the results of benchmarks run on HP's new DL145 Opteron box and the comparable Xeon model. It reveals that the 2.2GHz Opteron box is up to 57% faster than the 3.2GHz Xeon box on WebBench 5.0. Furthermore, the Opteron system enjoys a 39% scalability advantage over the Xeon going from one processor to two. Gigahertz? We don' need no steenking gigahertz.

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