HP Aims for Big Data Computing Breakthroughs With 'The Machine'

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-06-17 Email Print this article Print

Hewlett-Packard has been working on a new open-source server technology that company officials hope will economically deliver the processing power required to handle the vast volumes of data that will be generated by mobile devices, cloud computing and the Internet of things. Dubbed "The Machine," the hardware platform will reportedly harness large numbers of special-purpose, application-specific processors to handle the ever-increasing data management workloads. It will also apply technology that HP has been working on for years such as memristor nonvolatile memory and high-speed silicon photonics in place of copper wires to connect the CPUs to the memory.  HP CEO Meg Whitman said the goal is to bring the various technologies that the company has been working on separately into a "revolutionary, new computer architecture that will be available by the end of the decade." So it could be as much as six years before the hardware reaches the market. Despite the obstacles, The Machine is promising. And if its works, The Machine could more efficiently handle the mountains of data being produced each day by cloud computing and the Internet.  This slide show offers additional details about The Machine.

  • HP Aims for Big Data Computing Breakthroughs With 'The Machine'

    By Don Reisinger
    HP Aims for Big Data Computing Breakthroughs With 'The Machine'
  • HP Is Promising Dramatically Improved Compute Power

    The idea is for The Machine to use new ways to handle the transfer of data to dramatically alter the way information is gathered and disseminated to the user. HP has kept many details close to the vest, but promised that The Machine will be six times more powerful than any existing server on the market today.
    HP Is Promising Dramatically Improved Compute Power
  • A Real-Time Look at What's Going On

    HP argues that people and companies are looking at things that already happened when they use programs to crunch big data. With The Machine, the company wants to make data actionable in that moment. Data will be so actionable, in fact, that every 250 nanoseconds, 160 petabytes of data can be analyzed and results delivered from that. In other words, users will get a real-time look at what's going on in their companies and respond quickly.
    A Real-Time Look at What's Going On
  • Improved Security

    HP has said that The Machine will offer far better security than what we can expect in the server space today. The company is working on a new operating system and algorithms to handle security issues, but given the power of The Machine, network administrators will be able to see hacks or other attacks as they happen and be able to respond in real time. That should cut down significantly on the possibility of broad data breaches.
    Improved Security
  • This Isn't Just for the Enterprise

    Although the enterprise might seem like the central focus of The Machine, HP was quick to point out that it can be applicable to consumers, too. Company officials said that the data crunching can apply to smartphones and computers and deliver to users more relevant information while they're computing. HP also believes that its technology can create a faster, more secure environment for consumers.
    This Isn't Just for the Enterprise
  • HP Hints at a New Software Approach

    HP hinted that it's taking a new approach to software with The Machine. Currently, software takes data from around the world, compiles it and leaves it in a repository to be analyzed. In The Machine model, there would be a cloud-based network of sorts that would be created to share in the analysis and dissemination of that data. To perform all those functions, HP is building its own operating system. The company will also build an Android-based operating system for use in mobile devices.
    HP Hints at a New Software Approach
  • An Energy-Saving Move

    The public cloud uses as much energy as Japan and could eventually require more energy than we can produce, HP said in a video discussing The Machine's technology. By eliminating the use of copper and traditional three-dimensional computing shapes through The Machine, HP said its product would consume 80 times less energy than today's servers. The energy savings would create a massive improvement in total energy use around the world and perhaps put HP toward the top of the list of companies attempting to go green.
    An Energy-Saving Move
  • Will It Improve Our Lives?

    The Machine is designed to improve our lives. In one example, HP said that it can take all airline flight data—from GPS information to recording what in-flight movies people are watching—and share that in real time with other planes in the air. That would provide pilots with actionable information to make the flight safer and more convenient for passengers. In another example, doctors could use the technology to input a patient's symptoms and see how other physicians all over the world are responding to the same symptoms.
    Will It Improve Our Lives?
  • It Will Use Laser Photonics to Speed Data Processing

    Lasers and photons are at the center of The Machine's ability to do what it does. With help from lasers and photons to replace copper wires, data moves more quickly and more efficiently. Moreover, the data can move with a significantly reduced energy expenditure. This produces a more efficient flow of information.
    It Will Use Laser Photonics to Speed Data Processing
  • Memristors Will Replace RAM Memory

    Memristors will play a crucial role in The Machine. The components will replace regular RAM memory, which means data can be stored indefinitely. Perhaps more importantly, it's exceedingly efficient and massive in its size availability, which only makes it a better way to handle data. Expect to hear more about memristors in the future.
    Memristors Will Replace RAM Memory
  • There's a Networked Cloud Element

    There's a networked cloud component in all of this. In order for all data to be shared around the world, the cloud is integral. More importantly, The Machines around the world will need to be networked to allow for the transfer of information. HP said this can all be done securely and privately.
    There's a Networked Cloud Element
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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