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An Oral History of The Machine—Chapter Ten: Hello, World! Meet The Machine



Chapter Ten: Hello, World! Meet The Machine

By Curt Hopkins, Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs

The Machine is a computing architecture so radically different than any which has come before that it will affect everything we do in the future. Hewlett Packard Labs has spent the last five years developing the memory-driven computing, photonics, and fabric that has gone into The Machine and which have made the impossible inevitable.

We spoke to several dozen researchers – programmers, architects, open source advocates, optical scientists, and others – to construct an oral history of the years-long process of innovating the first real change in computing in 70 years.

These men and women are not only scientists, they are also compelling story tellers with an exciting history to relate. If you’re interested in how differently we will be gathering, storing, processing, retrieving, and applying information in the near future, or you just enjoy good stories about science and discovery, read on.

This final chapter will take you up to the present, providing an inside look at what we’ve demonstrated and how far we have come since the first inklings of a change in the direction of computing.

If you would like to read other entries in the series, click here


Lead Program Manager for The Machine

This is one of the most exciting moments of my career: we’ve announced that we successfully demonstrated Memory-Driven Computing, proving that we have made good on our promise to fundamentally transform the architecture of computers.

Our proof-of-concept prototype is working Hello, world!" 

The memory fabric testbed (MFT), the foundation of The Machine, is active and shows the fundamental building blocks of the new architecture working together. Some key technical concepts are now online and operational, including compute nodes accessing a shared pool of Fabric-Attached Memory, and optical communication links, including the new X1 photonics module.

We have an optimized Linux-based operating system running on a customized System on a Chip (SOC), and are continuing to add new software programming tools designed to take advantage of abundant persistent memory.

We also ran some of the test workloads we’ve been developing, including our Graph Inference scenarios, on the testbed hardware, with really encouraging results.

I won’t be able to get the grin off my face for a week. This is a moment of pride for all the teams. The opportunity to be part of something like this is a highlight of my professional career.

Right now, I can think of no other place I’d rather be.


Senior Manager, Innovation Marketing and Brand Integration

It’s incredibly exciting to see the entire team’s hard work over so many years coming to life in our first prototype, which we have been steadily working to bring online this November.

When people ask me what this milestone of The Machine project really means, I tell them that it’s opening the door to whole series of new innovations. By proving the technologies work, we are can get them into our customers’ hands faster.

For example, HPE Persistent Memory is a step on the path to non-volatile memory, and HPE plans to expand support for it from the HPE ProLiant DL360 and DL380 servers to additional HPE server platforms and deliver larger capacity persistent memory offerings to handle bigger workloads.

We’ve also taken steps to get existing products ready for these emerging technologies. For example, HPE Synergy systems are enabled to accept future photonics modules in advanced development, which will be introduced into Synergy products and into additional product lines in the near future, including our storage portfolio.

We are also looking to bring to market Fabric-Attached Memory, leveraging the high-performance interconnect protocol being developed by the recently announced Gen-Z Consortium, which HPE recently joined as a founding member.

Finally, our prototype also demonstrated new, secure memory interconnects in line with our vision to build in security from the ground up. We’ll further that vision with new hardware security features in the next year, followed by new software security features over the next three years.


Senior Marketing and Communications Manager, The Machine

machineload.gifThe Machine is not a device, like a new Mac. The form factor itself is not limited. A Memory-Driven platform that uses universal, persistent memory can be expressed as everything from a data center, to a server to a cell phone to a node on a car. So, I have to turn this question to “This is what’s next.” The sneak peek into the first iteration of The Machine is an expression of first signs of life and how everything is working together as a new computing platform we call Memory-Driven Computing.


That’s the key word “platform.” It’s a platform that enables scientific, technological, economic and societal breakthroughs that address challenges we can’t even imagine today.

It’s physical, what we have accomplished.  Seeing our foundational technologies working together for the very first time has turned our ideas into reality!  To witness node boards talking to each other with photonics through the memory fabric moves us closer to an environment of Memory-Driven Computing, opening up new possibilities.

The Machine creates a clear pathway that unlocks the promise of the real-time data driven enterprise, to make possible new ways to extract knowledge and insights without the constraints of today. The Machine will power innovations across a spectrum of areas, such as medical research, future cities and security.

 To read other entries in the series, click here

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About the Author


Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs

Achim Wolfrum

If HPE is successful in inventing The Machine, it will be a great step for mankind. I hope so.


The real question is, when will this be ready for production?  Or when will we start to see this in production environments?

I really want to see how well it works..

Guilherme Cortinas

we should have access to that memory driven architecture to began developing of algorithm to the new concept created... I think

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