HP Moonshot servers gets ARM’d

Processors designed by the British chipmaker ARM are usually found in smart phones. But Hewlett-Packard said this morning it is putting them into its Moonshot line of densely-packed lower-power ProLiant servers, joining cartridges using Intel’s Atom and AMD’s Opteron X2150 processors.

One of the new server cartridges, which like all cartridges fits into the Moonshot 1500 chassis, optimized for high throughput computing and Web caching workloads using a 64-bit ARM CPU. The other is a cartridge with a 32-bit ARM processor and optimized for real time data processing.

“It’s a pretty major industry milestone,” Paul Santeler, vice-president and general manager of the Moonshot division, said in an interview. “The training wheels have come off the bike for ARM servers.”

With the never-ending demand for processor power, CIOs are worried about increasing energy costs. One solution is packing low-power CPUs into tighter spaces, as Moonshot is doing.

ARM designs processors, then lets others manufacture them under licence. AMD and Cavium have said they will release ARM-based server on a chip processors this year. AppliedMicro already has a new X-Gene ARM 64-bit server on a chip, which HP is using.

Rather than aimed at general-purpose computing, however, HP has created server cartridges for a chassis, with each cartridge tailored for a specific workload. There’s an m700 cartridge for hosted desktops, an m300 cartridge for Web applications, and one for Web servers.

The latest announced today are

— the m800 cartridge, a massively parallel DSP solution for real-time analysis of high volume, complex data that uses Texas Instruments DSP cores and Moonshot’s 2D Torus fabric to enable high bandwidth, low latency data throughput.

For example, it can be used for analyzing purchasing patterns, fraud detection Santeler said;

–the m400, which has the 64-bit SOC, focuses on high performance and Web caching solutions. It comes pre-loaded with Ubuntu ServerLinux, with Ubuntu JuJu for service orchestration.

Typically customers will stack up to 10 of the 4.3UMoonshot 1500 chassis, Santeler said, with each chassis taking up to 45 cartridges. Some cartridges have one processor, others have four. In addition to low-power processors, the design is integrated with four different fabrics so the solution can scale, he added.

At the moment, a chassis can only deal with one model of cartridge. But Santeler said in the near future customers will be able to mix them.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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