SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A Hewlett-Packard sales rep complained at a recent internal meeting that a customer wanted to buy a load of HP gear, "but he can't get any more power from the city."
That problem exemplifies the rationale behind the ARM-based servers such as HP's Moonshot, Martin Fink, the company's chief technology officer, said in a keynote at the ARM Tech Con here.
HP currently has the first 64-bit ARM servers based on the XGene SoC from Applied Micro running in its labs; they are planned for shipment in 2014. It also has 32-bit systems based on SoCs from Calxeda and Texas Instruments in the labs, he said. Cartridges using the TI chips also include DSPs, extending the application space for HP servers.
This is something Fink encourages. "I want us to do stuff we have never done before," he told an audience of several hundred attendees. "We want you to shock us -- create the cartridge of cartridges that no one has thought of."
Intel's Atom-based Centerton won the first sockets in the Moonshot systems HP shipped. It plans to ship 64-bit ARM SoCs next year, and it is already shipping some 32-bit ARM SoCs. HP also is planning an "expanded set of open-source tools" for Moonshot.
HP's Fink showed Moonshot server cartridges from Applied Micro and Calxeda (pictured here), as well as one from TI.
Fink, who also runs HP Labs, talked about the long-term future of computing. He touted universal memory based on HP's memristor technology, and he suggested a decline is ahead for general-purpose processors.
"There are still places where we want to do that, but increasingly, with the combination of universal memory and the next generation of apps, we will move to energy- and algorithm-optimized systems," he said. "We will see processors specialized to the activities we want to do." He used video analytics processors as an example of "task-specific SoCs."
Finally, he talked about HP Labs' experiments with graphical big data analytics. "We have huge walls covered with monitors, and we can plaster all your data along these screens, then analyze the human reaction to it," he said. "There's a piece of this we want to automate with software tools that pop out and tell you want is the most relevant part of the data."
Fink imagined future CEOs using 3D mice and joysticks to fly through business data. "It's cool but probably won't happen. Our goal is to take this [big screen data] to a device you can hold and still spot the trends."