HP Looks to Moonshot for Data Center of the Future

Seeking to reverse its flagging fortunes and build the foundational layer for the 'Internet of Things,' HP unveils a new class of software-defined server: the HP ProLiant Moonshot.

It's no secret that Hewlett-Packard (HP) has been seeking a path to a turnaround. On Monday morning, HP President and CEO Meg Whitman unveiled a new vision for the company's server business that could be what the company's flagging fortunes need.

"We are living in a period of enormous change," Whitman says. "Very powerful megatrends are forcing us to change the way technology is delivered, maintained and paid for. What's emerging out there is a new style of IT driven by social, mobile, cloud and big data."

"Testing results show that with Moonshot servers we can expect to run hp.com with the energy equivalency of a dozen 60-watt light bulbs, which is a game changer." John Hinshaw

Executive Vice President

Technology and Operations at HP

Already, nearly 10 billion devices are connected to the Internet. In just a few years, that number could jump to as many as 20 billion objects—cell phones, tablets, sensors, RFID tags, smart meters and more.

"With 10 billion devices connected to the Internet and predictions for exponential growth, we've reached a point where the space, power and cost demands of traditional technology are no longer sustainable," Whitman says.

The answer, she says, is a new breed of server—a "software-defined" server that is specifically optimized for a particular application. Based on 10 years of research from HP Labs, HP has dubbed this new class of server HP Moonshot. By leveraging energy-efficient components (like Intel Atom S1200 processors commonly used in smartphones and tablets) and shared infrastructure that eliminates replicated components, and then right-sizing everything for a specific application, HP says its Moonshot servers will use up to 89 percent less energy, 80 percent less space and cost 77 percent less than traditional x86 servers.

"HP Moonshot marks the beginning of a new style of IT that will change the infrastructure economics and lay the foundation for the next 20 billion devices," Whitman says.

The HP Moonshot system consists of the HP Moonshot 1500 enclosure and application-optimized HP ProLiant Moonshot servers. HP will source processors from multiple partners—including AMD, AppliedMicro, Calxeda, Intel and Texas Instruments—each targeting a specific workload, ranging from emerging web, cloud and massive-scale environments to analytics, telecommunications, big data, high-performance computing, gaming, financial services, genomics, facial recognition, video analysis and more.

HP says Moonshot systems will support up to 1,800 servers per rack, occupying one-eighth the space required by traditional servers. Each chassis shares traditional components including fabric, HP Integrated Lights-Out (iLo) management, power supply and cooling fans, which is designed to reduce complexity, energy use and space required.

"Testing results show that with Moonshot servers we can expect to run hp.com with the energy equivalency of a dozen 60-watt light bulbs, which is a game changer," says John Hinshaw, executive vice president of Technology and Operations at HP. "We also plan to deploy Moonshot for additional applications to lead the next wave of transformation in the data center."

The first ProLiant Moonshot server uses the Intel Atom S1200 processor and is optimized for web-hosting workloads. It's a 4.3u server enclosure equipped with 45 Intel-based servers, one network switch and supporting components.

Pricing begins at $61,875 for the enclosure, 45 HP ProLiant Moonshot servers and an integrated switch. It's immediately available in the United States and Canada, and will become available in Europe, Asia and Latin America beginning next month.

HP says it plans to release additional Moonshot servers in the second half of 2013, including servers intended for analytics, telecommunications, web, cloud and massive-scale computing environments.

Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Thor at tolavsrud@cio.com

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