HP's first 'Project Moonshot' server due next quarter

HP claims the server consumes up to 89 percent less energy than a traditional x86 server

Hewlett-Packard's first low-power server for hyperscale computing environments, developed under a project it calls Moonshot, will go on sale next quarter, CEO Meg Whitman said on Thursday.

Project Moonshot is an effort to build low-power servers based on alternatives to Intel's Xeon processors for use in mega data centers like those operated by Facebook and Google.

HP announced the project in 2011, and the first server platform it talked about, known as Redstone, was to be based on an ARM-type processor from Calxeda.

HP switched gears last year, however, and showed another Project Moonshot server design dubbed Gemini, the first version of which was to be based on an Intel Atom processor.

It could be that Atom server that HP plans to release next quarter, though Whitman didn't say and an HP spokesman declined to comment. The server would be a bit behind schedule, since an HP executive originally said Gemini would be out late last year.

"We expect this to truly revolutionize the economics of the data center with an entirely new category of server that consumes up to 89 percent less energy, 94 percent less space and 63 percent less cost than a traditional x86 server environment," Whitman said on HP's earnings call Thursday.

It's HP's attempt to capitalize on a growing market for very low-power servers used by companies delivering online services on a large scale. Other players include Dell, which was quick to jump on the market, and AMD, which bought low-power server vendor SeaMicro and plans to license its technology to other computer makers.

The servers aren't designed to run traditional enterprise applications, however. They're intended for programs written specially for such environments, including Web applications and big data software such as Hadoop.

Gemini gets its power savings from a new Intel Atom chip known as Centerton, which Intel has said consumes 6 watts of power, far less than its Xeon chips. Calxeda isn't necessarily out in the cold, however: HP said Gemini uses a "processor cartridge" that will allow it to use other processor types in the future.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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