HP launches 'first enterprise-class' ARM-based server

The server maker expands its Moonshot range with the release of the first ARM-based machines in the microserver family.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

HP today announced it will be releasing the "first enterprise-class, 64-bit ARM-based server", as part of its expansion of its HP ProLiant Moonshot range.

The firm is launching two ARM-based microservers into the low-energy server family, which was previously exclusively served by Intel Atom and AMD Opteron processors. The servers among the first to sport system-on-a-chips based on ARM's v8 architecture, which support both 64-bit processor cores and other enterprise-class features, such as error-correcting code memory.

Microservers are a new category of system designed to shine when carrying out these well-defined computing workloads. For decades, servers have been the general-purpose workhorses of the datacentre. These boxes have proven to be jacks of all trades, able to run operations for organisations of every shape and size. But some businesses don't want a machine that can do everything reasonably well; instead, they want a computer that excels at specific tasks. The need for microservers has in part been fuelled by the growth of the web and online services. That's because the demands that serving this kind of content place on a system — the CPU load and I/O required to deliver static elements for a web page, for example — is predictable.

"Ubiquitous cloud-enabled smart devices are a driving force behind a major shift in IT infrastructure. Service providers deploying context-rich services to these devices are building massive new datacenter capacity and looking to their vendors to optimize infrastructure for their specific workloads," said Patrick Moorhead, of Moor Insights and Strategy.

The first of the two new ARM-based servers is the HP ProLiant m400 servers based on Applied Micro's X-Gene system-on-a-chip and running the Ubuntu operating system. The server is designed to save on power, cooling and space, with HP claiming up to 35 percent reduction in total cost of ownership compared to rack servers.

Suggested scale-out workloads for the m400 includes web caching, high performance computing and big data analytics, according to HP, with Sandia National Laboratories and University of Utah signing on as an early customer for the m400.

The second new server is the HP ProLiant m800, a 32-bit ARM-based machine. The server uses the 66AK2Hx SoCs from Texas Instruments, based on the KeyStone architecture, featuring four ARM Cortex-A15 cores and integrated digital signal processor (DSPs). The cartridges can be linked together using the HP 2D Torus Mesh Fabric in combination with Serial Rapid I/O, which together HP claims delivers three times more bandwidth and 90 percent low latency data throughput.

The m800 is optimised for real-time data processing of high volume, complex data — such as pattern analysis — and PayPal is using the HP ProLiant m800 in their Systems Intelligence project.

"The HP ProLiant m800's combination of ARM and Multicore Digital Signal Processors with high-speed, low-latency networking and tiered memory management creates a very energy efficient, extremely capable parallel processing platform with a familiar Linux interface," said Ryan Quick, principal architect with the advanced technology group at PayPal.

HP is also combining the HP ProLiant m800 server with Enea Telco Development Platform and eInfochips Multimedia Transcode Engine to provide a unified development platform for accelerated development of network functions for telco customers.

The server manufacturer is diversifying its product line up as a variety of factors affect demand for HP's traditional enterprise servers. HP may be the largest server maker in the world but the money it made from selling boxes into datacentres fell 6.2 percent last year, at a time when Asian low-cost server manufacturers saw revenues rise 50 percent.

The reason? These Asian manufacturers - the likes of Huawei, Supermicro, Quanta Computer and Wistron - are satisying the vast appetite for computer hardware of the world's biggest online firms - the likes of Google and Amazon in the west and Alibaba Group and Tencent in the east.

The server maker also announced today the HP ProLiant Moonshot ARM-64 Developer Program, part of the HP AllianceOne program, will enable developers to test and port code stacks to the ARM architecture.

Through this program, developers can design fully-featured software on an ARM-based 64-bit system by remotely accessing the HP ProLiant Moonshot Discovery Lab.

The new ARM-based Moonshot servers are available from today.

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