Intel, ARM Share Space in HP’s Project Moonshot

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-04-09 Print this article Print

Calxeda officials said April 9 that their technology will appear in a Moonshot system launching later this year. The system will offer four of Calxeda's ECX-1000 SoCs that run at 1.4GHz, and each offer 4GB of memory. Meanwhile, Texas Instruments officials noted that their Keystone II-based quad-core SoCs also will be used in HP's Moonshot initiative.

"The scalability and high performance, coupled with the low-power requirements of the HP Moonshot System, enables customers to develop solutions that address ever-changing and demanding market needs in the high-performance computing, cloud computing and communications infrastructure markets," Brian Glinsman, vice president, of processors at Texas Instruments, said in a statement. "Our SoCs are an ideal solution for customers requiring this level of performance and a low-power envelope, and we are excited about the opportunities our collaboration with HP brings to the market."

Intel officials have been vocal about the strengths of their Atom platform over the ARM architecture for servers, from its 64-bit capabilities and other features to the familiar x86 programming tools. They also have noted that when Avoton is released later this year, ARM will still be waiting for the launch of its upcoming ARMv8 architecture, which will include 64-bit capabilities.

However, ARM's Mandyam noted Applied Micro already makes a 64-bit ARM-based chip. Applied Micro on April 9 announced its X-Gene 64-bit ARM-based SoC, which is sampling with HP. A Moonshot system with the X-Gene chip will be available later this year.

"Our ARM 64-bit X-Gene Server on a Chip breakthrough architecture delivers an optimal combination of compute, networking and storage capabilities," Paramesh Gopi, president and CEO of Applied Micro, said in a statement.

Other ARM chip partners offer virtualization support and error-correcting code (ECC) memory, and the growing use of open-source technology in the data center is a plus for ARM, Mandyam said.

"Open source is the great equalizer," she said. "I don't think the gap [between ARM and Intel in server processor technology] is as much as you might think."

There also is room in the data center for 32-bit computing as well, both Mandyam and HP's Potter said. HP currently is running both 32-bit and 64-bit Moonshot systems in its labs, Potter said. "We're not limiting it," he said during the launch event.

In addition, Mandyam noted that Chinese search company Baidu used ARM 32-bit processors in storage systems while deploying a storage area network. Faced with power and space limitations, Baidu was able to cut the total cost of ownership in the network by 25 percent using the ARM technology, which included chips from Marvell.

"It's performance-per-watt that really matters at the end of the day," she said.



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