Hewlett-Packard is building a prototype system using 2,800 of the Calxeda chips as part of what it calls Project Moon Shot. The so-called Redstone Development System will be running before June in an HP Houston lab where selected customers and partners can run tests on it directly or remotely.
HP expects Redstone will reduce energy consumed on select workloads by 89 percent compared to x86 servers and reduce cost by 63 percent, said Jim Ganthier, vice president of marketing for HP's x86 server business.
The HP Discovery Lab in Houston will eventually be expanded with other labs in other locations running ARM- and x86-based systems using other company's processors. Initially HP's partners in the project include ARM, AMD, Calxeda, Canonical and Red Hat.
"Project Moon Shot as the name implies is a big, bold effort that involves a lot of people in a multi-year, multi-phase program," said Ganthier. "The number one opex issue for every CIO is their energy bill, so we are working on extremely low power systems," he said.
Intel's biggest customer, HP sees an opportunity for 32-bit ARM architectures in certain applications, Ganthier said. HP initially will explore and publish data on large scale systems doing searches of unstructured data using Hadoop and Memcached software under Linux.
"We are saying HP will lead this disruption," Ganthier said.
The Redstone platform is based on HP's Proliant 6500 server which sports 16 10Gbit/s Ethernet uplinks and support for solid-state drives. The development platform will support use of Intel Atom, future 64-bit ARM server chips and perhaps still other processors, Ganthier said.
HP Labs, the company's corporate R&D unit, is supporting Project Moon Shot. It may fold other emerging technologies, such as HP's memristors and photonics interconnects into future versions of the platform, said Partha Ranganathan, a corporate fellow in HP Labs.
HP is one of several top server makers that has been exploring low-power processor alternatives for large data centers. The new project opens those explorations up to more customers and partners essentially, giving a broader community a hand in picking future directions.
At least one OEM will ship products based on Calxeda's four-chip server card.