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HP puts AMD chips in 32-core server

Hewlett-Packard is not only offering its customers new appliances, it's selling the house to put them in. The house, in HP's case, is a data centre; the vendor is making data centre design and consulting part of a broader portfolio of customer services.

HP is offering itself up as a primary data centre contractor to customers, a direction made possible through its acquisition of EYP Mission Critical Facilities in February. EYP focused on consulting and designing services for data centres and other technology-intensive uses.

As part of this offering, announced yesterday, HP said it would ship in May its largest x86 server yet — the eight-socket ProLiant DL785, equipped with quad-core Opteron chips from Advanced Micro Design.

This is HP's largest x86 server, supporting up to 256GB of memory, said John Bennett, worldwide director of Data Centre Transformation, the new service.

"If we are going to be encouraging customers to consolidate and virtualise their environment, we need to be able to do that for their scale-up applications," he said.

Building a new data centre is only one aspect of HP's data centre transformation initiative. The effort includes a broad range of services and software intended to help companies optimise their IT, retrofit their data centres if needed, and get more use out of the infrastructure. It includes new software called HP Insight Dynamics that, the company said, analyses and optimises physical and virtual resources in the same way. There are also new automation tools in its HP Operations Orchestration system.

HP says it is being driven by a number of business trends. The company released its own independent study of data centre needs this month. In it, HP interviewed 161 business and technology executives, with 75% from firms with more than 1,000 employees. More than a third of the respondents indicated that their data centres will be incapable of meeting business needs in 2 to 5 years.

That finding is indirectly supported by a study last year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which estimated that the rate at which computers and data centres use power will double nationally in five years. But analysts say HP is also responding to competitive pressure.