HP last week enhanced its server line with the launch of a RISC processor and a low-end Itanium server.The company announced a PA-8800 dual-processor module that shares components with Itanium-based servers, allowing customers a smooth transition to future Itanium-based platforms. The dual-processor module is used in HP 9000 servers.Current users can upgrade their PA-8700-based servers with the new module. And HP PA-8000 server owners will be able to upgrade those systems to Intel Itanium 2-based servers or to the company\u2019s future PA-8900 processor.The PA-8800-based servers run HP-UX and have a 50% performance increase over PA-8700-based servers, according to HP\u2019s claims. Use of the dual-module PA-8800 additionally gives customers double the CPUs in the same system.The new PA-8800 servers and HP\u2019s Itanium-based Integrity systems share common cell boards, cabinets, memory and some chipsets, as well as the Intel Itanium system bus.The new servers for HP are: the 128-processor HP 9000 Superdome server starting at $309,000, the 32-processor rp8420-32 PA-RISC server (starting at $93,000), the 16-processor HP rp7420-16 PA-RISC server ($40,000), the eight-processor rp4440-8 server ($21,000), the four-processor rp3400-4 server ($3,400) and the two-processor rp3410-2 ($4,000) server.HP also announced the HP rx1600, a low-end Itanium-based server, starting at $2,800. It features two Low Voltage Itanium 2 processors in a 1U rack mount enclosure.HP seems hell-bent to continue on its Itanium course, despite incursions by IBM and Sun with their Opteron-based alternatives.It is rumored that HP will kneel under user pressure and add AMD Opteron servers to its Intel Itanium and Xeon product lines. Although HP would neither confirm nor deny these claims, it did say that there is room in its offerings for a 32\/64-bit strategy.\u201cHP acknowledges customer demand for support from a trusted vendor for x86 extensions technology in certain segments where specific price\/performance needs exist,\u201d an HP spokesman says. \u201cHP is currently assessing our options in this area.\u201dTime will tell. According to IDC, over 10,000 Opteron processors sold in the third quarter of 2003, compared to 5,000 Itaniums.