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HP Starts the Wheels Spinning to Roll Out ARM Servers

HP expects to have limited quantities of the Calxeda box available for select customers in the first half

HP confirmed Tuesday that it's going into the ARM microserver business starting with a development platform dubbed Redstone built around the quad-core 32-bit ARM chip developed by ARM-backed Texas start-up Calxeda.

The secret that it will peddle ARM servers leaked last week.

Calxeda calls its server-bent chip EnergyCore and can get 2,800 low-power servers in a 40U rack, promising to consume perhaps 89% less energy and 94% less space than the usual Intel servers while reducing overall costs by up to 63%. It's supposed to be 97% less complex and reduce cabling, switching and peripheral devices.

The Redstone initiative, designing for testing and proof of concept, is supposed to expand at some point to include servers built on Intel's x86-based low-power Atom chip.

HP expects to have limited quantities of the Calxeda box available for select customers in the first half. Doubtless these are the Calxeda reference platforms the Texas outfit has been promising.

Meantime, as part of an overarching umbrella program called Project Moonshot, HP is going to encourage developers to run their workloads on the ARM widgetry to identify suitable applications. The Calxeda machines will target hyper-scale cloud, Web 2.0 and content delivery installations that don't need the high performance of Intel boxes.

HP will establish Redstone-specific Discovery Labs accessible remotely or on-site beginning with one in Houston, Texas, scheduled to open in January. Additional labs will open in Europe and China.

HP is also creating a so-called Pathfinder Program, part of its AllianceONE partner program, to encourage the development of elements of Project Moonshot within open industry standards.

It's supposed to gather in ISVs as well as compute, storage and networking folk willing to contribute hardware and software technical expertise. So far it's collected ARM, Calxeda, Canonical, Red Hat and for some reason not yet clear AMD unless it has something to do with the money AMD's fab partner Advanced Technology Investment Company has in Calxeda.

HP would like the multi-year, multi-phase Moonshot project perceived as HP innovation and tries to tie it to 10 years of low-energy computing infrastructure research done by HP Labs, but the whole thing so far is based on other people's IP. It's merely getting ahead of the curve. Anyway, Calxeda's marketing VP used to work at HP.

HP is said to want to run Windows 8 on the Calxeda machines when the new operating system comes out next year. Canonical confirmed back in mid-August that Ubuntu Server 11.10 would run on ARM.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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