On Monday HP launched a new class of server ‘designed for the data centre and built for the planet’. HP claims that the Moonshot servers use up to 89% less energy, take up 80% less space and are 77% cheaper than traditional servers.
This new class of server is designed to address the IT challenges created by social networking, cloud computing, the use of mobile devices and big data. “With nearly 10 billion devices connected to the internet and predictions for exponential growth, we’ve reached a point where the space, power and cost demands of traditional technology are no longer sustainable,” said Meg Whitman, president and CEO, HP. “HP Moonshot marks the beginning of a new style of IT that will change the infrastructure economics and lay the foundation for the next 20 billion devices.”
The main difference from previous HP servers is that the new Moonshot range is built from chips usually found in smartphones and tablets, where space and energy use has been much more of a focus. It means the servers use less power and space in a data centre, so can be packed in more densely. The servers are also designed for specific purposes. The first available are powered by Intel’s Atom S1200 Centerton chip designed for web hosting. Future systems will run on processors from the likes of Calxeda, Texas Instruments and Advanced Micro Devices and will be aimed at big data, high-performance computing, gaming, financial services, genomics, facial recognition, video analysis and other applications.
Review: There is already enormous pressure on data centres, with demands from our increasingly connected world pushing space and power availability to the limit. Building traditional data centres to meet the increasing demand needs huge facilities and a supply of power that may not be available in urban areas.
The ability to use much smaller and more power efficient servers is an ideal solution. “Testing results show that with Moonshot servers we can expect to run hp.com, with the energy equivalency of a dozen 60-watt light bulbs, which is a game changer,” said John Hinshaw, executive vice president, Technology and Operations.
It does seem that the green IT focus is now moving away from the overall energy efficiency of data centres – as represented by the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratio - to more directly addressing IT power use. Even with virtualisation, servers can be very inefficient, with a tendency to use high levels of power even when doing very little. More efficient devices will start to address that issue and their benefit will no doubt be reflected in the new data centre metrics that are emerging.
But it's disappointing to hear the servers equated to 60-watt bulbs. Doesn’t HP use low-powered, energy-saving lights?