HP Preps Moonshot For New Calxeda ARM Technology

Hewlett-Packard Monday said an upcoming new server module for its Moonshot server line will be based on a new higher-performance version of Calxeda's EnergyCore series of ARM processor-based server-on-chip technology.

The new server-on-chip modules, dubbed the EnergyCore ECX-2000 family, offer nearly double the performance and four times the amount of memory per module compared with the earlier ECX-1000 modules.

HP, which in late 2011 built its original Moonshot platform using Calxeda ARM processor technology but never made the technology generally available, is now officially in the high-density, ARM-based server business, said John Gromala, director of HP's hyperscale business.

[Related: HP Moonshot Servers Ship With Intel Atom (ARM, AMD To Come) ]

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"We're entering a new chapter with broad availability of ARM-based offerings," Gromala said.

Moonshot servers, which feature a standard chassis into which purpose-built server modules based on multiple processor technologies can be used, are currently commercially available only with the Intel Atom S1200 Centerton processors, Gromala said.

HP in September also unveiled Intel Atom C2000 Avoton processor-based modules but has not yet said when those modules will be available.

Industry sources said HP, Palo Alto, Calif., also is planning to introduce Moonshot modules based on Texas Instruments and AMD server nodes, but Gromala declined to discuss future announcements.

HP is gearing up for its Moonshot line to be a real force in the server market, said Dan Molina, CTO of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and longtime HP partner.

While Nth Generation has yet to sell a Moonshot server solution, it is talking to two of its customers who will likely become beta users, Molina said.

"The whole Moonshot project has amazing potential," he said. "It may disappoint folks at first who do not realize that initial applications for Moonshot are limited. But next year will see a huge pickup in apps."

HP's adoption of ARM technology makes sense, Molina said, adding that it puts HP "in the driver's seat."

When HP first unveiled its Moonshot server plans, the original Calxeda ARM processor technology was used to build a development lab to give customers a chance to test the technology, Gromala said. The initial plan was for HP to not ship server modules based on the original Calxeda ARM server-on-chip modules, but HP ended selling it in limited quantities per customer request, he said.

NEXT: Details On The New EnergyCore ECX-2000 ARM Server Modules

The new EnergyCore ECX-2000 ARM modules from Calxeda run at up to 1.8GHz compared with 1.1GHz in the original ECX-1000 modules, said Karl Freund, vice president of marketing at Austin, Texas-based Calxeda.

The ECX-2000, like the ECX-1000, has a 32-bit instruction set. However, Freund said, the ECX-2000 features an extra 8 bits for memory address extension, allowing each processor to address 16 GB of memory, or four times the original, he said.

The new server-on-chip modules are certified for use with the Canonical Ubuntu 13.10 operating system and work with the Havana release of OpenStack, Freund said. There also is a development cloud that allows Apache open-source software to run on the modules. They run Inktank's enterprise version of the open-source storage software Ceph as well, he said.

Overall, Calxeda is offering customers the ability to build clouds on ARM-based infrastructures for the first time, he said.

Looking forward, Calxeda plans to launch a 64-bit ARM module, code-named Sarita, which is pin-compatible with the new ECX-2000, he said. That will be followed by Lago, a higher-performance 64-bit ARM module that is not pin-compatible with the ECX-2000, he said.