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Moonshot System: HP reshapes your world (again)


I am an avid reader of non-fiction books with topics such as the FBI, CIA and Secret Service. The thing that intrigues me the most about this subject matter is how these agencies use and rely on technology to complete their mission and stay safe in the process. This technology can range from top secret gadgets used for clandestine purposes, to super-computers that use big data to isolate and predict possible criminal activity.


The reality is that even though the original use of the these gadgets and techniques were for top secret activities, many of them eventually worked their way into the public domain, showing up as products that today we find indispensable. At one time, RADAR (including your microwave oven), GPS, digital photography and even the Internet were all used exclusively for military applications. This is just a small sampling of technologies that have been transported into the public domain. DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has been a major contributor to this list, including developments in satellite imagery and cloud computing.


It is important to know that HP has played a key role in the research and development of some of DARPA's technological advancements. For example, back in 2005 HP announced a new project with DARPA to develop technologies to improve the performance of mission-critical computer networks used during combat and other vital operations. The project was to improve the reliability of TCP/IP (Transaction Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) – the basic communication system on which the entire Internet is based. HP Labs is also a part of projects funded by DARPA that use HP's memristors to accelerate the realization of artificial intelligence.


Aside from HP Labs' relationship with DARPA, HP has developed technologies that ultimately produced the pocket scientific calculator (1972), thermal inkjet printing (1984) and RISC architecture (1986). In the past two decades, HP's contributions have ranged from optical sensing technology used in cordless mice (1998), to the world's first molecular logic gate (1999 – a fundamental step in the creation of chemically assembled electronic nanocomputers), to Jena, the most popular toolkit for Semantic Web developers (2000). While some of these projects seem to be "out there" a little, I would bet at one point, many people also thought that GPS technology and ink-jet printers were a little "out there" too.


HP Moonshot System.jpgCarrying on this tradition, HP recently announced HP Moonshot System, another technology that will fundamentally change the way we look at enterprise level computing. With paradigm-shifting hardware configurations that can be tailored to specific applications, there is no other server, storage and networking platform that can achieve the same levels of energy savings and space efficiency that Moonshot offers. It is a huge leap forward in server design that addresses the speed, scale and specialization required for the new style of IT. Everything that is common in a traditional server is shared to create a resource pool: the power supply and the power cords, the cooling fans, the management interface and the management network, the network interface and the network uplinks are all shared across forty five servers. In effect, everything is shared other than the software defined portion of the design.


The term “software defined” servers is used to describe the fact that they are designed, tailored and optimized for a specific software workload. Because of the innovative chassis design, only dedicated and specialized functionality is housed on the server. Aligning the right amounts of compute, memory, storage, and I/O to a specific workload is the key to achieving high levels of efficiency at scale.


And like DARPA and HP's collaboration, an industry transformation cannot be achieved by a single vendor; a coalition of like-minded partners is required. This coalition currently includes over 25 silicon and software partners who are in the labs – either physically or remotely – with HP, improving solutions and coming up with new solutions that will get collectively launched.


So, continuing the long history of technological innovation, HP is now developing a community of servers where dedicated and specialized functionality is separate, and everything that is common is shared. That has never been done before. But before long we’ll all be taking it for granted. Like ink-jets and GPS.







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