HP’s Project Moonshot To Lift Off Next Week

HP’s Redstone development platform, part of the company’s “Project Moonshot” efforts.

Hewlett-Packard plans on unveiling “Project Moonshot,” its low-power server project, on April 8.

HP has offered few other details, except that chief executive Meg Whitman will be on hand to reveal the new class of servers, as well as Dave Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager of Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking for HP.

That HP should be announcing Moonshot comes as little surprise, given that Whitman said in February that HP had begun taking orders. At the time, Whitman also claimed that Moonshot wouldn’t hit its full potential until 2014.

HP first announced Moonshot in 2011, and initially planned servers based on the ARM architecture. But after Intel announced its own low-power server processor, “Centerton,” HP apparently switched sides and signed back on the Intel camp. The platform of record now appears to be “Gemini,” announced last June; the Gemini line is designed to handle such tasks as Website serving, offline analytics or managing a distributed memory cache.

HP’s Gen8 servers are based on the Intel Xeon processor, which the executives behind Moonshot rejected in favor of lower-power servers that are cheaper to operate in terms of power costs. Intel is also expected to make a datacenter-related announcement next week at the opening of its Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, probably concerning Centerton.

Still, you can’t help but wonder whether HP might have a surprise up its sleeve—and whether newly-appointed ARM chief executive, Simon Segars, might have his first coup. At the company’s shareholder meeting, Whitman described Moonshot’s advantages:

“This could be truly a revolution, where these servers are actually build on the same chips that are in your cell phones, whether that be ARM or [Atom] chips. They use about 92% less power, 87% less energy at half the cost,” and much less space, Whitman said, according to a transcript of the event.

A dual ARM-Centeron offering seems likely, given the existing Calxeda relationship as well as HP’s positioning. When HP announced the most recent “Gemini” version of Moonshot in June 2012, HP was careful to note its relationship with Intel for the Centerton as well as future Atom products. Gemini will use “processor cartridges” (similar to Facebook’s Group Hug, possibly) that will allow multiple types of CPUs to be used.

HP also added this caveat: “HP has a robust development roadmap of Gemini server cartridges incorporating processors from other vendors for use within the Gemini system. These cartridges will incorporate features needed for an extended set of workloads and will offer a wide range of density and performance configurations.”

HP said at the time that the Moonshot Web site is powered by Gemini; not the best endorsement, however, as the Website that Google identified as the Moonshot site appeared to have trouble loading the page at press time.

 

Image: HP