HPE has unveiled what it describes as the world's largest single-memory computer next week as part of its "The Machine" research project.
HPE - which has been slashing costs since before CEO Meg Whitman took over - claims that it represents the largest research and development programme in the company's history.
The memory-driven computer, the company claims, will provide the blueprint for computing in an era of big data, and for storing data in memory for fast retrieval.
The prototype contains 160 terabytes of memory, capable of storing about 160 million books. But based on the prototype, HPE believes that its architecture could be extended to an exabyte-scale single-memory system and, beyond that up to 4,096 yottabytes. For context, that is 250,000 times everything currently held in a digital format today.
The technical specifications includes 160TB of shared memory spread across 40 physical nodes, interconnected using a high-performance fabric protocol. The device itself runs Linux on ThunderX2, Cavium's flagship second-generation dual-socket capable ARMv8-A workload optimised system-on-a-chip.
The device was first aired in November as a proof-of-concept machine, months after Martin Fink, HPE chief technology officer and one of the project's key architects, retired from HPE - before resurfacing to return to work with Western Digital in January. The company says that, while it has no plans to sell it, it will incorporate elements of the technologies it developed to make it into different HPE products in the future.
Whitman suggested that big data - and computers with the memory and computer power to analyse large data-sets in memory - had the potential to generate major technological breakthroughs.
"The secrets to the next great scientific breakthrough, industry-changing innovation, or life-altering technology hide in plain sight behind the mountains of data we create every day," said Whitman. "To realise this promise, we can't rely on the technologies of the past, we need a computer built for the 'big data era'."
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