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HP updates Moonshot server platform with ARM and AMD Opteron hardware

09 Dec 2013
HP Moonshot m800 ARM-based server cartridge

HP is adding new hardware options to its Moonshot high-density server platform, including modules with AMD Opteron and ARM-based processors for the first time.

The firm also unveiled a new Converged Systems solution based around Moonshot, optimised for hosted desktops.

The new Moonshot additions are being showcased at the HP Discover event in Barcelona. As well as availability of the Moonshot m300 server cartridge based on Intel Avoton Atom chips that HP announced in September, the firm is making available the Moonshot m700 cartridge based on AMD Opteron X2150 APUs and disclosed the ARM-based m800 cartridge built around Texas Instruments (TI) KeyStone system on a chip (SoC) silicon coming in 2014.

Paul Morgan, manager of the Hyperscale server business for HP in Europe, told V3 that the new Moonshot hardware moves the platform on from the first iteration that the firm delivered earlier this year.

"The first flavour in April was targeted at entry web services, including web front-end and static web hosting powered by the Intel Atom processor, but we said we intended to have a whole library of cartridges for specific workloads, and here we are with the second ‘leap'," he said.

Update cycles, or ‘leaps', will come more quickly for Moonshot than other server platforms, typically every four or five months, Morgan added.

The m300 server cartridge with its eight-core Intel Atom C2750 processor and 32GB memory is designed to support more demanding applications such as dynamic websites and content delivery, according to HP. This is available from today.

Meanwhile, the m700 cartridge comprises four separate servers, each based on a quad-core AMD Opteron X2150 with an on-chip Radeon GPU and 8GB memory each. This is chiefly aimed at hosted desktop applications, where the built-in graphics acceleration helps meet the requirements for operating virtual Windows desktops.

Angela Cross, UK and Ireland country manager for HP Industry Standard Servers (ISS), said that this changes the game as regards density in the hosted desktop market.

"With 45 cartridges in one Moonshot enclosure, you've got 180 servers and 180 users covered from one single chassis," she said. This is also available now.

The much-anticipated ARM support comes in the m800 cartridge, which also has four servers, each based on a TI KeyStone II SoC with four Cortex-A15 cores and 8GB memory apiece.

These cartridges are somewhat specialised, as each TI chip also has eight C66x digital signal processor (DSP) cores, making them suitable for applications in the telecommunications market and also in seismic imaging for oil and gas exploration, according to HP.

Morgan said that the ARM cartridges are part of a longer-term strategy by HP, and would need more development work than the other two in order to deliver an end solution. To this end, the m800 will be available in HP's Discovery Lab and the firm will provide developer kits for telco partners to let them begin pre-testing and configuration work.

HP expects to see Moonshot systems with the m800 cartridges ship commercially "sometime in 2014", he said.

As a ready-built solution, the AMD Moonshot technology is available now in the HP Converged System 100 for Hosted Desktops, with pricing starting at $137,999 for 180 users.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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