HP to launch Project Moonshot

Hewlett Packard is set to unveil next week a class of densely packed low-power servers that are able to rapidly scale performance.

The launch of Project Moonshot on April 8 is the result of HP’s year-and-a-half experiment with low-power server designs for hyperscale environments.

The project was first made public in 2011 with an ARM server design. The company later expanded the project’s scope to include dense servers with low-power Atom processors from Intel. Some customers received prototypes of the server for testing.

The servers are meant to reduce power and space requirements and are targeted towards large data centres designed for Internet traffic and cloud implementations.

Project Moonshot focuses on faster information delivery rather than processing power. The platform will use 89 per cent less energy, cover 94 per cent less space and cost 63 per cent less than a traditional x86 server environment, according to Meg Whitman, CEO of HP.


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The servers will be architecture-agnostic and will support both Atom and ARM processors.

X86 server environments use energy-gobbling Intel Xenon or Advance Micro Devices Opteron processors. These servers have more processing power and a suitable for data-intensive workloads such as databases.

The Project Moonshot platform would be ideal for large data centres and private cloud implementations or service providers, according to Crawford Del Prete, executive vice-president of worldwide research for analyst firm IDC.

He said many companies are now focusing on obtaining more productivity and power efficiency from servers and using low-power cores could efficiently run Web and cloud-specific tasks.

Companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon are in this space. They have built large data centres and continue to add thousands of servers to handle an ever growing number of Web and Internet requests.

Companies that consider ARM servers will likely have to work with HP to recompile code, according to Del Prete Most server applications are written for x86 processors.

It was only recently that support for ARM has grown with firms such as Red Hat, Cloudera, Ubuntu and Oracle developing operating system support for the architecture.

A recent case study presented by HP indicates that a Moonshot installation for half a rack priced at $1.2 million and consuming 9.9 kilowatts per hour, could replace and installation of 1,600 servers priced at $3.3 million and consuming 91 kilowatts per hour.

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