HP's first Moonshot server with Atom processors priced at $61,875

The Moonshot hyperscale server finally sees the light of day after more than a year of experimentation

Hewlett-Packard's new densely packed low-power Moonshot server has finally come out of the company's labs and is available to customers in the U.S. and Canada starting at US$61,875.

This will be the first time commercial users will get a full view of HP's Moonshot hyperscale class of servers, which are for data centers that handle large volumes of fast-moving social networking, mobile and Internet activity. After more than a year of experimentation and multiple delays, the first Moonshot server was released Monday.

The new Moonshot system includes a chassis that will accommodate up to 45 Proliant servers -- also called cartridges -- based on Intel's Atom S1200 x86 low-power processors. The company did not immediately announce a Moonshot system based on ARM processors, but has left the door open for such a server in the future.

The server system, which includes the chassis with a switch and fabric, is shipping now in the U.S. and Canada and will ship in other parts of the world at a later date.

There is a growing interest in low-power servers as companies try to squeeze more productivity and power efficiency out of servers. HP first announced Project Moonshot in November 2011 with a dense server running ARM processors, and later added a new design called Gemini with Intel's low-power Atom processors. While Gemini started off with Intel, HP said the server would be architecture agnostic so that ARM and Intel cartridges could be swapped out easily.

The server is for data centers in which performance can be quickly scaled to handle larger volumes of Internet or cloud workloads, said Meg Whitman , CEO of HP, during a webcast to announce the server.

HP portrayed Moonshot as a new server type that could save energy, space and cost compared to a host of traditional 1U or 2U servers. One 4.3U Moonshot system can save 89 percent energy, 80 percent of space and 77 percent of cost. The baseline for measurement is racks of HP's Proliant DL380 server, but the company did not provide exact details on the number of servers.

The proof-of-concept Moonshot servers until now were available to 50 customers for testing and benchmarking, said Mark Potter , senior vice president and general manager, Industry Standard Servers and Software at HP, during the webcast.

Beyond the initial offering, future iterations of Moonshot servers will be targeted at applications such as gaming, financial servers, databases and video analysis, Potter said.

The Atom S1200 chip, code-named Centerton, is 64-bit, has an Ethernet controller and supports virtualization. For specific server workloads, the chip is viewed as being more power-efficient than traditional x86 server chips such as Intel's Xeon or Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron.

The first Moonshot system will support Linux and Microsoft's server operating systems, Potter said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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