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HP packs 64-bit ARM chips into Moonshot servers

ARM coming to a mainstream datacentre near you soon

HP has unveiled two production-ready servers sporting ARM processors as part of its Project Moonshot portfolio.

The HP Proliant m400, aimed at web server applications, is based on the X-Gene Server on a Chip (SoC) from Applied Micro Circuits.

The server sports a 64-bit ARM chip with eight cores running at up to 2.4GHz. The server comes with Canonical's Ubuntu Linux as well as cloud orchestration tools Juju and Metal-as-a-Service (MAAS) software for automatically provisioning bare metal servers.

The server is designed to save power, cooling and space with HP claiming a 35 per cent reduction in total cost of ownership in comparison to normal rack servers.

HP touted Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Utah as early customers for the m400.

"By giving researchers access to the HP Moonshot platform in our CloudLab facility, we empower them to develop fundamental breakthroughs that have the potential to change the capabilities, performance, reliability, and security of future clouds," said  Robert Ricci, research assistant professor of Computer Science, University of Utah.

The second new server is the m800, which sports a 32-bit ARM processor from Texas Instruments which comes with four ARM Cortex A-15 cores, and integrated digital signal processors (DSPs). These servers can be linked together using HP's 2D Torus Mesh Fabric in combination with Serial Rapid I/O.

One of HP's customers already using the m800 is PayPal in its 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 of the Advanced Technology Group at PayPal

Analysts said ubiquitous cloud-enabled smart devices are a driving force behind this 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 in a whitepaper published by HP.

Pricing for the 64-bit HP ProLiant m800 starts at $81,651, while pricing for the 32-bit HP ProLiant m400 starts at $58,477.

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