In the light of the changes that have happened at HP and an Transmeta recently -- the former has changed its boss and the latter has announced that it will no longer be involved in the processor manufacturing business, we asked HP, one of Transmeta's biggest customers, what the future was for its blades. Phil McLean, HP UK Marketing Manager supplied the answers.
Q: What is the core of HP’s approach to blade server markets?
A: HP believes in offering customers the appropriate choice of server for each environment, and has a comprehensive portfolio of servers from pedestal systems, rack systems and blade systems.
In the blade market HP aims to lead by implementing industry standard components in familiar architectures within a flexible infrastructure. Simply put, this means that customers currently using industry standard servers in conventional 19-inch racks will be easily able to integrate HP blades into the same physical environment. The fact that HP blades are built on industry standard technologies means that customers will be able to run the same operating systems and applications on blades, but in a more efficient data centre environment.
HP achieves the efficiencies in several areas. Density was the first driver during the dot com era, and customers can get more than double the number of blades into the same physical space as conventional rack servers. As time has moved on customers have become more conscious of other efficiency drivers, the foremost of which is administration of systems (deployment, redeployment and ongoing management). HP has focused on providing a tailored suite of tools which makes HP blades less costly to own over the course of their lifetime.
Q: How important is low power consumption in the blade server market? Is this something that HP specialises in, and which it actively markets?
A: Low power consumption becomes more important to customers the more servers that they choose to deploy, as the total power drawn by their infrastructure will potentially push current thresholds. It's also fair to say that as a customer deploys more systems, heat also becomes an issue, and adds further to the power draw as more air conditioning is required to keep the data centre cool.
At the outset HP took the approach of providing hyper-dense systems (280 servers in a 42u rack) in the BL eClass range, where low voltage Intel processors were featured (similar to the processors you would find in a typical laptop). These systems were talked about as 'fit for purpose' - that they provided around a quarter of the performance and required about a quarter of the power. However, the market for this was very slow to develop and ultimately they have been discontinued, suggesting that the requirement for low power consumption is less important than the desire for better performance from blades.
HP no longer offers low power processors in its server blades, but supports customers in their data centre planning to ensure that the appropriate amount of total power (and power redundancy) supports the correct configuration of blade servers, and that the customer environment is fit to support future requirements.
Q: How important is the Transmeta technology to HP’s product line? Can you indicate the number of customers (even if only in general terms) who select the BC1000 compared to equivalent Intel/AMD-based devices?
A: HP has strong relationships with all major processor manufacturers, and will evaluate and introduce other technologies as necessary to provide its customers with industry-leading, standards-based business computing products and solutions that offer outstanding value and ease of ownership at a competitive price. Unfortunately we don't have customer numbers for devices.
How do you see the future of Transmeta’s low-energy technology? Is the company far enough ahead of the main processor makers to stay there? If not, when would you anticipate that Intel/AMD will get close?
Transmeta announced on the 4 January that it is evaluating its current business model, in light of this HP is unable to make any forward looking statements around its market position.