Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) revealed some more details about The Machine this week, although the company is still not saying when the project will become a commercial product.
Even so, HPE has been revealing details about The Machine during sessions at HPE Discover, the company’s semiannual customer conference. At this week’s Discover in London, the company said it switched on a prototype of The Machine in October, at the company’s Fort Collins, Colorado lab. It includes a key chip called X1, which is in production.
A full-blown, commercial The Machine will have to wait for new memory chips that might not be available until 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported. Until then, HPE might apply some of The Machine’s technologies to other products.
The Machine is HPE‘s attempt to build a new computer architecture from scratch, with memory, rather than microprocessors, being the central element.
To help customers visualize this, HPE uses a diagram where the memory is a big circle. Processors surround the circle (like the Oort cloud around the solar system, if that’s not too geeky a reference) and are able to tap the pool of memory at will to get at the data they need. It’s a departure from conventional computing, where data has to be sent to a processor.
What makes this work is that memory is connected via a mesh architecture, using optical connections rather than the usual electrical interfaces. (That’s where the X1 comes in; HPE describes it as an photonics module.) HPE calls the concept Memory-Driven Computing and claims it should let applications grow to a more ambitious scale. The company also expects The Machine to speed up applications tremendously; the company’s press release says experiments have shown some workloads can be sped up by a factor of 8,000.
Synergy & Azure Stack
At Discover, HPE also announced more facets of its partnership with Microsoft, which was launched a year ago and has come to include Azure Stack, Microsoft’s product that runs Azure cloud software in a customer’s own data center.
Originally a software construct, Azure Stack has morphed into a turnkey product to be pre-loaded onto servers — one option being HPE’s ProLiant DL380 Gen9 servers, as announced in September.
Today, the companies further announced they’ll be launching joint innovation centers to help customers with Azure Stack. The first will be in Seattle, and the companies are considering a second center in Europe.
HPE also shared a bit of news about Synergy, its composable infrastructure product. HPE has added OpenStack to Synergy by integrating Helion CloudSystem 10 into its software. The company also announced a new set of controls for the Hyper Converged 380 system.