HP executives expect to roll out more Moonshot servers in the second half of the year for such environments at Web workloads, cloud computing and massive data centers, as well as analytics and telecommunications. Future systems will be optimized for high-performance computing, financial services, facial recognition, video analysis and other workloads.
They will be powered by chips from a range of vendors, including Intel—which this week is showing off the next-generation microserver Atom chip, dubbed "Avoton""—Advanced Micro Devices and ARM partners AppliedMicro, Calxeda and Texas Instruments.
That broad offering of architectures is a key part of what HP is doing with Project Moonshot, Potter said. Not only will the company be able to accelerate by three times the rate that it releases new servers—thanks to no longer being tied solely to Intel's 18- to 24-month cycle—but it allows a level of customization that the industry hasn't seen before, both crucial factors when dealing with the emerging workloads coming into the data center, he said.
"General-purpose [chips don't] really fit their needs," Potter told eWEEK.
Along with the Moonshot systems, HP also is rolling out its Pathfinder Innovation Ecosystem, an initiative aimed at enabling software developers to build applications that can be optimized for the systems. In addition, HP's Discovery Labs enables customers and partners to access Moonshot systems housed in HP's data center to test and benchmark solutions.
"Only someone like HP can [create a place] where people can come together and innovate," Potter said.
Both Donatelli and Potter said the new systems will be complementary to the company's x86-based traditional ProLiant systems. Donatelli noted that the x86 server market is a $40 billion space.
"x86 will be here a long time [and] Moonshot will be here a long time," he said. "It's just that you'll see rapid growth in Moonshot."
The Moonshot systems come as HP undergoes a multi-year turnaround program under Whitman following several years of upheaval, management instability and disappointing financial numbers. However, Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, said Whitman is bringing stability back to the company, and it's beginning to work.
"Ms. Whitman has kept HP on a relatively even keel over the past 18 months, and things at the company are beginning to look up," Kay wrote in an April 8 column in Forbes.com. "From a November 2012 low of $11.35, the stock is up into the low 20s, about a double. … HP still has many arrows in its quiver. It just needs the time and stability to pull each one out with a steady hand, set it to the bowstring, pull back, and fire."