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HP Tech Talk: Pushing Server Design with Moonshot

Designing for A New Style of IT

HP’s Gerald Kleyn, Director of Hyperscale Server Hardware R&D at Hewlett-Packard  discusses HP’s Project Moonshot, explaining some of the similarities and differences between traditional IT solutions and why the ability to quickly respond, configure and change in reaction to specific business goals can be a critical competitive advantage. The HP Moonshot system is a radical departure from conventional infrastructure design, and is the world’s first software defined server for internet scale applications.

 

HP Moonshot is designed and tailored for specific workloads to deliver optimum performance and energy savings. This enables the system to deliver breakthrough efficiency and scale by aligning just the right amount of compute, memory and storage to get the work done. This federated approach to server design that saves energy, cost, and enables extreme scale-out without a corresponding increase in complexity and management overhead because multiple servers can share management, power,cooling,networking and storage.

 

 

 

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INTRO:89, 80, 77. What kind of countdown is that? That is the countdown for Moonshot. Find out more next.INTRO MUSICWelcome to HP Tech Talks. I am Andy McCaskey from SDR News and on this show, we talk about defining the new style of information technology with experts from Hewlett-Packard. We cover topics such as cloud computing and networking, servers and storage. But this week, we are going to be concentrating on our product called Moonshot, which coincidentally comes to us from HP located in Houston. Let me introduce Gerald Kleyn.Hi Andy. I am Gerald Kleyn. I am the director of platform research and development for our Hyperscale Server unit.Tell us what is Moonshot and how is it developed. 

Well, for project Moonshot, it is where we sat back and, number one, thought about our customers’ needs and problems in the hyperscale space, and those needs and problems are all centered around total cost of ownership or what we call TCO. And so those numbers that you had in your countdown – 97% less complexity, 89% less energy, 80% less space, and 77% less cost – are some of the breakthrough TCO metrics that we have been able to deliver with these systems. So we are looking at this particular customer base and what their needs are. And then we also looked at the technology space and what was changing there. And one of the changes in the technology space was a trend towards mobile devices – things that we call SOCs or systems on a chip, where different server components are now coupled together more tightly into one part that is much lower power, much the more cost, technology developed out of the mobile space, you can see the explosion mobile device, so that economics was clearly going in that direction. And a lot of the research into low-energy, low-power devices was moving in that direction too.

 

And I think of course the energy cost has got to be on everyone’s mind. I saw on the HP website that if the public cloud were a separate country, the energy consumption would be the 5th largest in the world. And if you could cut that in half, that is equivalent to the energy use of Great Britain. These are astounding numbers.

 

Yeah, you are absolutely right Andy. As our customers turn on these brand-new services that literally just scale overnight to millions or hundreds of millions of users – energy consumption and usage, and even data center space for that matter is very difficult to come by. And we cannot build power plants fast enough to keep up with the growing demand of all these servers that it takes to power all these new applications and services that are being provided. So it is a big problem for the industry and one that HP project Moonshot aims to solve.

 

And I see on the table behind you that you have got a couple of things that you would like to show us. What are some of the innovations that were baked in to this almost total redesign of the server product?

 

Yeah. Let us take a walk through the numbers. 97% less complexity. When we talk about SOCs that are maybe 5 to 10 or 11 Watts, now we can cram 2,000 of those into a rack of servers where I used to only be able to fit about 40. So we had to think about the problem differently, not only how you manage the thing but, how you interconnect the thing. And so inside of our server division, we talk about converged infrastructure, and that is where we bring networking storage servers together along with rich management interfaces to be able to couple a lot of servers together as a bigger system. So one of the things that I have here is one of the switches out of project Moonshot. This actually goes directly into the same chassis as all of these SOCs. And this is a high-density switch. Used to have one of these in a rack, and now we can fit 18 of these in a rack. So now we can bring all that cabling complexity out of the rack and down into a chassis where it is all interconnected immediately. When we think about less energy and space, this is about the size of my face, and this is four independent servers on one card. So I can fit 18,000 servers in a rack. And so all of these cabled together – you don’t have cables anymore actually, they go directly to switches. A lot less space, and then each of these devices here are running anywhere from 5 to 12 Watts depending on the processor vendor that I am choosing. So now you can see that we have dramatically reduced the energy. Now at the same time, these aren’t necessarily targeted at every particular solution out there. And so we are looking at specific usage models and specific solutions for these different cartridges .

 

Still with all this density that you have built into the server itself, cooling has to be a major, major design consideration.

 

Yeah, absolutely. Cooling is always a design consideration. But it is a heck of a lot easier to cool a 5-Watt part than a 130-Watt processor where the cooling density is in a space this big. Now I am spreading that power density across the entire rack as opposed to having it in a very small space.

 

You had mentioned some solution-focused modules. Do you have an example?

 

Really where it get some of those great TCO savings as we get very laser focused on a particular solution for a cartridge, these aren’t general purpose server cartridges. They are solution server cartridges. This one for example is focused on dedicated hosting. And so for dedicated hosting, what customers typically have is a dedicated rack mount 1U box where you can fit 40 of those in a rack and then the hosting provider gives their customer direct access to those systems. And so what you see here is a very small cartridge that has a drive, a processor, memory on the back side, and then a network interface that allows a dedicated server to their users using much lower energy. This is about 19 Watts as opposed to a 100 Watts server. Much lower space and much less cost because we have got that nicely integrated package and we can fit many more of these in a rack.

 

How does a customer decide how to tailor that system for their particular needs?

 

Yeah, so number one, we have tailored each solution towards a particular customer need. And so as we come out with new product, you will see us actually come out with product dedicated for dedicated hosters or dedicated for web front-end or dedicated for financial services applications. So what you will see is us coming out with solution white papers that tell them exactly where they get the kind of TCO metrics that they were looking at. This first one for dedicated hosters  is for dedicated hosters running web front-end. This is nice that we actually worked with our HP IT organization and deployed some of these to go and serve up some of our static marketing web pages on hp.com, and when we did so, we were able to achieve 90% less space and 90% less power over their existing infrastructure. So it was really exciting for us to eat our own dog food so to speak and really see those good results.

 

I understand there is something called Discovery Lab that you will be working with people on.

 

That is right. And so as we go forward, you are going to see out of the mobile space, we have actually got pretty broad road map of opportunities. And so Discovery Lab is where we invite our customer and partners into lab environment where they can get early access to the technology that is coming in the future. So they can start to test out their workloads, help us find the best solutions and the best solution space where this is going to work. And then help us kind of drive that future of computing technology. In the past, we would wait for a two-year cycle of new silicon to come out and people start layering  solutions on top of that. With the explosion of vendors that we have on SOC roadmap, there are a lot more opportunities to be disruptive and so Discovery Lab is about improving that innovations not only for us, but also for our customers.

 

But then there is another one called Pathfinder, the Ecosystem. How is that different?

 

That’s right. And so the Pathfinder Ecosystem is where we partner with silicon providers, operating system vendors, and then in-point software vendors or ISVs to really develop that end-to-end solutions stack so that our customers don’t need to wait for us to come out with something and then try to go piece it all together themselves. We are really targeting those solution spaces where we can be disruptive from a TCO perspective.

 

What have you found personally to be the most exciting challenge on this project?

 

Well, really what has been most gratifying for me is the way that we really see the power of HP come together. We have got expertise and broad market coverage with respect to networking. We have got clearly expertise in leadership in servers. We have got expertise in leadership in marketing and sales and our customers. We have got expertise in services. It is really the end-to-end package. This level of innovation coming together not only from an engineering perspective is exciting, but as you go out to customers, talk to them about this truly innovative project, we have got our own ideas of where the solution fits. And then come up with 5 new ideas that we had never thought of, that is really where you see that we have created something different and something innovative is when they start riffing off our own ideas. So that has personally been most gratifying for me.

 

What type of customer would be most interested in the capabilities that Moonshot is providing? This is not something that could be attractive for all types of customers, correct?

 

Yeah, and so initially, we are targeted at web hosters and web front-end. As we come up with future releases, you will see us come out later this year with several solution-based cartridges. Out on our website hp.com/go/moonshot, you can see some of the customer testimonials that we have at on the site that not only talk about solutions today, but also solutions for the future. So I recommend you got to those pages because the SOC road map is broad and wide. And if you look at some of the partners that we have on stage with us at the launch event, we have got partners from web hosting companies, seismic exploration and energy companies. We have got partners that incorporate things like digital signal processors and FPGAs. So the applicability in the future starts to grow as we introduce new solutions and so we are really excited about that.

 

So Gerald, in closing, I have to ask a question of why HP, and why a person who is involved with information technology should take a close look at HP right now?

 

If you look at the broad technology that HP can bring to bear, everything coming out of HP labs, that is really where we have got some of our initial Moonshot findings taken that into real products. A lot of people ask us why are you developing Moonshot? It seems like this takes away from your core business. This is what leaders do. We go and create that next-generation technology and that next-generation platform for the future. HP is the only company that can bring all that to bear, not only from an engineering perspective, but also that end-to-end services, all of our sales representatives around the world. We have really got that global footprint to really bring it through for all of our global customers. So it really differentiates from any other company on the planet.

 

Well Gerald, I have certainly enjoyed spending some time chatting with you today, learning more about Moonshot, and looking forward to our next chance to talk about the servers. Of course, here at HP Tech Talks, we cover a variety of topics as HP is defining the new style of IT; cloud computing, servers, networking and storage. Storage is what is coming up next week. Thanks for joining us. I am Andy McCaskey for SDR News.

 

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