Tech giant HP has introduced an entirely new computing architecture dubbed "The Machine" that it says can process data intelligently using far less energy and space. With the massive amount of data being moved to the cloud increasing every day, The Machine could be the ticket to solving the challenges of cloud computing -- managing and analyzing all that information.
The entire computing industry has continued down the same road for more than a decade, yet businesses are trying to do entirely different things since the invention of the cloud. According to HP, running the public cloud today uses as much energy as is used by all of Japan.
When looking at computing from a sustainability perspective, it is simply not possible to progress without a new type of computer. It may take a few years, but HP is confident that it has found a way to take computing to the next level. HP is staking its future on The Machine knowing that it could change an entire industry.
HP Labs, the company's R&D division, has been working on The Machine for two years. The project started to take shape when Martin Fink was named CTO of HP Labs. In the 1990s it was very common for a technology company to think of ways to build computer architectures from the ground up, but that has been less common in recent years.
HP had been moving in the direction of The Machine before Fink moved to Labs, but it wasn't until he took over that HP actually began work on a new computer model. The company has invented a new type of memory called "memristors," and a data transfer system that uses silicon photonics. Memristors will replace RAM and long-term flash storage, since they are fast and still allow for permanent storage.
Silicon photonics use lasers to send data as an alternative to copper wires. The lasers are just 1/4 the size of human hair, according to HP. By switching to lasers in data centers, 160 petabytes of data can be transferred in 250 nanoseconds, all while using 80 times less energy.
The Machine has been introduced just as the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a legitimate market. Data from IoT devices will be so large that current computers will struggle to manage -- much less analyze -- the information. HP's memristors will not become available until 2015, and it will take until at least 2018 for HP to release entire computers.
Even though an explosion is already underway with millions of people becoming connected to the Internet and accessing larger files, data centers are currently able to deal with the increase. That is not to say, however, that data centers can continue using traditional computers indefinitely. That means businesses have a few years to spare before upgrading to HP's The Machine is necessary.
Posted: 2014-06-23 @ 1:03am PT
@KV:Memristors are a pretty big deal in their own right, and definitely not just style without substance. Companies and makers have dabbled with them for years, and their potential has been well known for decades, but this is the first big visible push to a commercial use. If "The Machine" can live up to the hype, it promises orders of magnitude more of both speed and storage capacity. We're talking hundreds of terabytes in your smartphone (if they can miniaturise it; that's a big if) and that's just the first generation. IF they can make it work as promised, IF they can mass produce it, IF they can miniaturise it. I hope they can, we're due a revolution.