The Superdome can accommodate up to 64 processors and runs HP's HP-UX flavour of the Unix operating system. HP will push the PA-RISC 8700+ chips farther down its Unix server line "in the near future", according to a spokeswoman.
The faster chips should help HP keep up with the likes of Sun Microsystems and IBM in the lucrative Unix server market. Both Sun and IBM have revamped their rival high-end systems in recent months, but HP claims the new chips in the Superdome stack up well, particularly when it comes to churning through Java-based applications.
Over the next few years, HP hopes to move away from the PA-RISC chips and adopt Intel's Itanium chip across most of its server line. HP co-developed Itanium with Intel, and the company believes Intel's widespread distribution channel will help make large, powerful servers less expensive for businesses. Sun and IBM, however, have said they plan to continue making their own chips for Unix servers.
A 16 processor Superdome with 64Gbytes of memory starts at $400,000 (£265,850). A top-of-the-line 64 processor system with 256Gbytes of memory starts at $1m. Superdome servers do not have internal hard disks; they use external storage instead.