HP’s Moonshot powering its corporate website, web farms

HP’s Proliant Moonshot servers are powering its website, serving up 300,000 visits per month on less than it takes to power 12, 60-watt light bulbs, says executives, including Meg Whitman, during their keynotes this week at HP Discover.  The Proliant Moonshot platform was officially launched to the public in April and first ships with cartridges with low-power Intel Atom processors.

According to HP Fellow Dwight Barron, they saw the next wave of low energy processors and thought how do we leverage those processors for the next wave of server computing.  With Moonshot the intent is really to go after highly specialized hardware optimized for specific applications.  Cartridges for Moonshot go after solutions that do one thing very well.

Barron, who serves as the Chief Technologist for HP Servers Hyperscale, also said that the market is very new and there are many possibilities that can be explored with the systems.  What Moonshot allows for the company is to take new silicon and turn it into an actual cartridge product within a few weeks.  The Moonshot design allows the cartridges to interface with the global management inside of the Moonshot chassis.  Each new cartridge design goes through HP’s normal checks and quality assurance before being released, but it really increases the flexibility of releasing an entirely new product and keeping current with industry changes for hyperscale systems.

Asked about use cases for Moonshot and uptake, John Gromala, Director of HP Hyperscale Server Product Marketing, says that orders for Moonshot within its first few weeks on the market are already exceeding HP’s expectations.  The target markets of the product are really hosting and static web server farms.  Within the hosting market, Moonshot with x86 processor cartridges would provide a path to dedicated servers at the price point similar to a virtual server instance.

At the present time, the cartridges inside of a chassis are all uniform and mean to be for scale out solutions.  One example that was given was around the banking industry – with many banks moving to mobile check deposits, banks may also want to include facial recognition along with the check to be deposited, but the facial recognition could be greatly improved with special silicon made onto a front-end web server.  The special silicon in an industry stand server could be accomplished with a PCI expansion card, but in Moonshot, you can buckle the GPU with a low-power CPU’s in order to achieve long-term cost savings across mass scale.

While not for mass enterprise adoption, Moonshot hits the mark for large hosting providers, where energy savings and increased density have an appeal for mass deployments.  Moonshot, as it evolves, is a new innovation to watch.

Disclosure: HP sponsored my trip to HP Discover, covering all travel expenses, however HP does not control the content of the posts that I write based on my attendance to the show.  The thoughts, impressions and information contained in this post are my own. 

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