HP wants to reinvent the data center with a new generation of low-energy, highly efficient servers. The effort is collectively being dubbed, ‘Project Moonshot’ and involves low power processors from ARM as well as new approaches for architecting and sharing data center server resources.
“We’re unveiling what we believe is the future of extreme low level energy, server technology,” Glenn Keels, director of marketing in HP’s hyperscale business unit told InternetNews.com. “This is much more than just a server — it’s the result of a multi-year effort involving technology, customer enablement and uniting partners.”
Project Moonshot is getting started with the new HP Redstone Server Development Platform, initially powered by ARM Cortex processors from Calxeda. Keels noted that future iterations of Redstone will include Intel Atom as well.
With Redstone, HP can provide up to 2,800 servers in one rack, which dramatically reduces the amount of power and cabling required versus a traditional data center server deployment.
“It’s a very flexible platform specifically designed for testing, development and benchmarking,” Keels said. “So customers can begin to understand the suitability of placing large scale application on this new class of servers.”
While CPU architecture is an important component of lowering power, the CPU alone is only one component of the overall approach.
“We’re moving from tens of servers per rack, basically sharing nothing, to thousands of servers per rack sharing everything,” Keel said.
Keel explained that there is also a shared fabric that provides high performance and low-latency that goes within chassis and at the rack level. The solution also involves having a federated management system at the rack and row level for servers. There is also a move from single power supplies per server to a pooled power model.
“That way we can scale more easily,” Keel said. “So as the number of servers increase, you don’t have the corresponding increase of things that have to be powered, cabled, cooled, managed and secured.”
HP is also enabling its partner ecosystem on the Redstone platform with an effort called the Pathfinder Program.
“It’s dedicated to uniting industry leaders to enable customers to have a discovery period to select the right types of applications so they will get the right return on investment,” Keel said.
The initial Pathfinder partners include Calxeda, Red Hat and Canonical. While the initial operating system vendors for Redstone are Linux vendors, Keel noted that the solution isn’t limited strictly to Linux moving forward.
“We believe that a lot of workloads from customers are on Linux so there is an affinity there,” Keel said.
Getting data centers and enterprises customers to move the new generation of low-energy servers will have its fair share of challenges. Keel noted that the chief concern that he hears about new technology is usually about vendor stability, which is something that HP can provide.
“Customers that bet their business on IT need a strong ecosystem of vendors united behind a technology enabling continuity of supply and an innovation roadmap, so they know they’re not buying a Betamax.” Keel said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.