HP puts mobile chip design into servers

To be sold in mid-2012, new Moonshot-powered systems touted to reduce power consumption and real estate in data centers by 89 percent and 94 percent, respectively, says IT vendor.

Hewlett-Packard has announced a new chip design for its computer centers which is touted to reduce power consumption and space requirement.

Called Project Moonshot, the new design replaces conventional microprocessors used in computer servers with low-energy chips, according to the company's media statement released Tuesday.

In a data center environment, Moonshot-powered systems can help reduce energy consumption by 89 percent and require 94 percent less space, bringing down overall costs by up to 63 percent compared to traditional server systems, said HP, citing findings from its lab tests.

A New York Times report said these mobile chips usually run on small batteries and are designed as power efficient, shutting down unnecessary tasks and slowing others while calls are being placed or Web is accessed.

A load which conventionally requires US$3.3 million systems comprising 400 servers, 10 storage racks, 1,600 networking and power cables, and 91 kilowatts of power can be done in the new system for US$1.2 million, using one-half of a storage rack, 41 cables and 9.9 kilowatts, the IT vendor said. The mobile chips are also smaller, allowing each system to hold 1,600 of these processors, the report added.

The new chips will be manufactured by Calxeda and set to be sold in mid-2012, HP said, confirming reports last week that it was in talks with the chipmaker, which is partly owned by ARM Holdings, to ship servers running on the low-power chips.

Calxeda designs chips based on technology more commonly used in mobile phones and notebook computers, to create processors that consume less electricity.

Chip rival Intel also offers a line of low-power chips, Atom. Quoting HP's manager of hyperscale business, Paul Santeler, New York Times said the IT giant would continue to use Atom in future versions of Moonshot. The HP executive also refuted suggestions that the new low-power chips would be a treat to Intel, which counts HP as its biggest customer.

Santeler said: "Intel chips have the preponderance of compiled code and real-life solution for established businesses. This is for a part of the market that buys in bulk, thousands of machines at a time."