HP to use ARM-based processors for new server program

If you have a big server operation, it is very likely that the processors that are running things inside were made at Intel. Now HP, the world's number one server maker, has announced Project Moonshot, a new way to build server operations that will cut costs and energy use. The most interesting thing about Project Moonshot is that, at least at first, the servers will use ARM-designed Cortex processors created by Calxeda.

This is pretty huge for the server market as it represents the first time ARM-designed chips will be used inside an HP server machine. According to the press release, the first ARM-based servers will be used in the first part of 2012 via the HP Redstone program. It states, "It incorporates more than 2,800 servers in a single rack, reducing cabling, switching and the need for peripheral devices, and delivering a 97 percent reduction in complexity."

While HP said that future versions of this program will also incorporate Intel's Atom processors, the fact that ARM-based chips are now being used in servers is a huge break from the x86 design. It also shows that Intel had better watch out. ARM-based chips are already being used in a ton of smartphones and tablets. They could be used in desktop and notebook PCs now that Microsoft has plans to offer a version of Windows 8 specifically for ARM processors. All of this could cause both Intel and AMD to fight for market share in the server market.

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21 Comments

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HOW IS THIS NEWS!? Dell already released a server-blade system with ARM processors in 2008. This isn't ****ing news, and it's not even remotely as new as the article suggests.

Interesting, ARM and to a lesser extent Atom processors have made good inroads, nice to see them being incorporated where possible. I question a 97% reduction in complexity but hey good luck

Actually PowerPC, of which derivates a lot of power processors (like ps3 cell) is an ARM processor, that is the way of the evolution, not ARM as in cell phones.

Arceles said,
Actually PowerPC, of which derivates a lot of power processors (like ps3 cell) is an ARM processor, that is the way of the evolution, not ARM as in cell phones.

If only. That'd make emulating it a lot easier.

PowerPC is ppc is not ARM.

Arceles said,
Actually PowerPC, of which derivates a lot of power processors (like ps3 cell) is an ARM processor, that is the way of the evolution, not ARM as in cell phones.

I think you got a little mixed up, as mentioned, PowerPC is, well, PowerPC. ARM and PowerPC are, however, RISC processors designs.

Sraf said,

I think you got a little mixed up, as mentioned, PowerPC is, well, PowerPC. ARM and PowerPC are, however, RISC processors designs.

My mistake indeed, I was drunk or something indeed

Atom processors can barely launch IE, FF, and Chrome at the same time. Running THAT p.o.s. in a server is the worst.

Maybe HP should be ditching their chief engineers instead of the business units themselves.

Nas said,
Atom processors can barely launch IE, FF, and Chrome at the same time. Running THAT p.o.s. in a server is the worst.

What? They are 2 different architectures all together?!?!

Nas said,
Atom processors can barely launch IE, FF, and Chrome at the same time. Running THAT p.o.s. in a server is the worst.

Maybe HP should be ditching their chief engineers instead of the business units themselves.


Where do we usually find ATOM?
In netbooks.
What do they usually use apart from Atom processors?
Low-end hardware!
Slow busses, fewer RAM/less quick RAM, smaller HDDs (even with the SSDs they are usually not exactly "top of the line"), etc...

So it's not just Atom bottlenecking here, maybe Atom could pull some good weight with multi-launching in your described scenario, then again I'm sure those HP servers won't be the "get the heavy jobs done" servers.

My guess is that those servers will operate simple complexity jobs that involve less CPU work.

GS:mac

Nas said,
Atom processors can barely launch IE, FF, and Chrome at the same time. Running THAT p.o.s. in a server is the worst.

Maybe HP should be ditching their chief engineers instead of the business units themselves.


A dual core Atom chip with proper storage and DDR3 memory makes a good host for a small Xen Virtual Machine host. I have one running my web server, and that thing is surprising in terms of power. I had at one point 3 Windows 7 VMs and one Windows Server vm (before switching to Xen) on it and they were fast enough to be useful for basic stuff, with the occasional lag spike.

So I would quite count the Atom out completely.

SharpGreen said,

A dual core Atom chip with proper storage and DDR3 memory makes a good host for a small Xen Virtual Machine host. I have one running my web server, and that thing is surprising in terms of power. I had at one point 3 Windows 7 VMs and one Windows Server vm (before switching to Xen) on it and they were fast enough to be useful for basic stuff, with the occasional lag spike.

So I would quite count the Atom out completely.


I agree! The Atoms are not as bad as they are said to be…

Nas said,
Atom processors can barely launch IE, FF, and Chrome at the same time. Running THAT p.o.s. in a server is the worst

Then I guess it's lucky that most servers don't launch IE, FF and Chrome at the same time - or, indeed, at all. This is for a massively parallel server project, not someone's desktop.

Snake89 said,

The intel Atom is also running alot of windows home server boxes also. which is what i use.


Yes, I know, hence the "usually".
I picked him up where he seemingly got his impressions from.

Cause with the home boxes the other parts are usually a whole tad better hence not bottlenecking the whole system.
That would be a good counterexample.

GS:mac

ACTIONpack said,
I thought ARM processor was design for small devices and not big machines.

First!


ARM is an architecture and its widely used in smartphones and tablets but that doesnt mean it cant be used in servers. also the performance is getting better with every new processor.

Edited by still1, Nov 2 2011, 3:41am :

ACTIONpack said,
I thought ARM processor was design for small devices and not big machines.

ARM is very scalable. Especially with the Little.Big design. It's time to do away with the bloated legacy x86 architecture and adopt the riscier (exuse the pun) option

Joey S said,
do away with the bloated legacy x86 architecture and adopt the riscier (exuse the pun) option

You know that every x86 has been a RISC-CPU internally for ages, right?

MFH said,

You know that every x86 has been a RISC-CPU internally for ages, right?

That's what makes it so crazy - the CPUs are converting the x86 instructions into their internal microcode anyway, because CPU advancements have meant that's the more efficient method. Surely it's time to move to something more similar to the microcode (which, as I understand it, ARM is)?

I don't know how good the various compilers are at optimising ARM executables compared to the immense amount of work that x86 compilers have had put into them in that regard... But I suspect given Windows's upcoming ARM support there might be a lot more interest in that area soon.