That’s no moon

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

Elliot Bentley

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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