HP is finally shipping ARM-based server cartridge options for its Moonshot server platform, consisting of a 64-bit module for high-performance web caching and one with integrated digital signal processing (DSP) capabilities for specialised tasks such as transcoding and telephony applications.
Available immediately, the new server cartridges represent the fourth ‘leap', or release, of HP's Moonshot hardware, which is designed to target very specific applications calling for high-density server deployments rather than general-purpose applications met by HP's existing ProLiant line-up.
The new modules comprise the m400, which is a 64-bit cartridge based on the Applied Micro X-Gene server on a chip platform with eight cores running at up to 2.4GHz, and the m800, based on the 32-bit KeyStone 66AK2Hx system on a chip (SoC) from Texas Instruments.
Of the two, the m800 was announced at the end of last year along with the cartridges based on Intel's Avoton Atom and AMD's Opteron X2150, but is only shipping now.
As with the existing cartridges, the new hardware is designed for the Moonshot 1500 rack-mount enclosure, which can house up to 45 hot-pluggable cartridge modules.
Reflecting their targeting at specific applications, both of the new cartridge options will come with a suitable software package, according to Iain Stephen, Vice President for HP Servers in EMEA.
The m400 will thus ship with Ubuntu Linux, which includes the Juju service orchestration tool and Canonical's Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS) tool for automatically provisioning bare metal servers.
"If you move to a software-defined server world, there isn't a lot of variation in the deployment, so the fastest way to get customers up and running is to have pre-loaded software," Stephen told V3.
The m800 also comes with Canonical's Ubuntu Linux operating system. This cartridge is a little more exotic, comprising four separate servers, each based on a TI chip with four Cortex-A15 ARM cores and up to eight TMS320C66x high-performance DSPs apiece.
However, it also ships with software for transcoding and voice recognition processing that makes use of the DSP hardware, according to Stephen.
"So it's a very packaged piece of technology to run a very specific task for the customer," he said.
HP's Moonshot platform is aimed at emerging workloads, many of which are identified by customers and partners working with HP in its Discovery Labs, the firm said.
The most popular niche so far has proven to be running hosted desktops, according to Stephen, typically using the m700 cartridge, which integrates four separate servers, each based on a quad-core AMD Opteron X2150 SoC.
"This is a completely new way of doing computing, with a chassis with a number of processors in it for specific tasks, and as a customer you've got to have a very good understanding of your software stack to take full advantage," he said.
The technology is still at the "discovery" phase, he added, but HP expects to see growth in 2015 because there is now a broader range of cartridges targeting different applications.
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