That’s no moon

HP aims high with tiny, low-power ‘Moonshot’ server

Elliot Bentley
hp-moonshot1

With its new Moonshot range, can HP reinvent the server and save its business at the same time?

HP
has taken the wraps off their first big announcement since CEO Meg
Whitman took the reins in 2011: a range of small, low-power servers
called Project
Moonshot
.

Announced 16 months ago – and presumably in
development for longer – Moonshot is claimed to use 89% less power
and be 80% smaller than typical servers, potentially reducing
operating costs in large, hot data centers.

It is being touted as a rare beacon of innovation from
HP, which has suffered under six different CEOs in the past ten
years and lost billions in the botched acquisitions of
Palm
and Autonomy. As
traditional PC sales continue to dry up and HP struggles to enter
the post-PC market, its server and cloud products are now more
important than ever.

The first device announced today is the
ProLiant Moonshot Server
, which includes an Intel Atom S1260
processor, up to 45 of which can be housed in the Moonshot 1500
Chassis. It’s said to be the first of many – in fact, the
“foundation for the next 20 billion devices”, according to
Whitman.

All Things D reporter Arik Hesseldahl, who was shown
the device during an interview,
described an early device
as “about the size of a
trade-paperback book”. Upwards of 450 Moonshot “cartridges” are
said to be able to fit in a standard server rack.

Moonshot’s other major selling point is its
customisability. Though initially only supporting Intel’s low-power
Atom range, it’s promised to be able to support a range of
processors including ARM-based chips, as well as both flash and
traditional hard drive storage. Those who require a certain
hardware feature – say, a GPU – will be able to bolt it on as
necessary.

HP claim that, with savings in space and power consumption taken
into account, Moonshot devices will cost a quarter of the price of
running traditional servers. However, it remains to be seen if
these long-term savings will be enough to drive adoption.

Moon photo by dingopup.

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