‘The Machine’ could mark a significant turning point for HPE or the ultimate in lost causes – and it could be argued the company has a bit of a track record there – viz its commitment to Intel’s Itanium processor. But the in-memory architecture does hold out the potential of being the next big step that IT takes.
And if HP’s developments in non-volatile memory devices prove to give the lead Chalmers feels sure they will, and they get licensed out in a timely fashion together with the licensing of a reference system architecture, there could soon be available a wide range of machines at price points that make fast, high-throughput systems the next obvious choice. The interest of the company in edge services also suggests the coming of distributed, virtualised, logical in-memory systems comprised of multiple edge devices and core systems ‘blocks’.
The air in the cleanroom is the purest you’ve ever breathed. It’s class 10 purity, meaning that for every cubic foot of air there can be no more than 10 particles larger than half a micron, which is about the size of a small bacteria. In an exceptionally clean hospital OR, there can be as many as 10,000 bacteria-size particles without creating any special risk of infection. In the outside world, there are about 3 million.
The cleanroom is nearly silent except for the low hum of the “tools,” as Intel calls them, which look like giant copy machines and cost as much as $50 million each. They sit on steel pedestals that are attached to the building’s frame, so that no vibrations—from other tools, for instance, or from your footfalls—will affect the chips. You step softly even so. Some of these tools are so precise they can be controlled to within half a nanometer, the width of two silicon atoms.
It’s surprisingly dark, too. For decades, Intel’s cleanrooms have been lit like darkrooms, bathed in a deep, low yellow.
The decision to design semiconductors was risky. About the size of a small postage stamp, the microprocessor is the most important component of any computing device. It does the work that makes playing games, posting to Facebook, sending texts, and taking pictures seem easy. Small currents of energy move from the battery through hundreds of millions of tiny transistors, triggering commands and responses in nanoseconds. It’s like an intricate city design that fits on the tip of your finger. When the chip isn’t doing its job efficiently, the device feels sluggish, crashes, or makes users want to throw it against a wall.
If there’s a bug in software, you simply release a corrected version. It’s different with hardware. “You get one transistor wrong, it’s done, game over,” Srouji says. “Each one of those transistors has to work. Silicon is very unforgiving.” Among computer and smartphone makers, industry practice is to leave the processors to specialists such as Intel, Qualcomm, or Samsung, which sink billions into getting the chips right and making them inexpensively.
John Sontag has seen the future—or at least Hewlett-Packard’s version of it. Sontag, vice president and director of Systems Research at HP Labs, has been in charge of the team developing “The Machine,” an experimental piece of computing hardware that HP executives hope will be the template upon which the future of networked computing is built. In an interview with Ars, Sontag explained how the core technologies of The Machine—memristor-based memory and low-cost silicon-to-optic interfaces—will change the shape of computing.
The Machine is a hyper-dense collection of computing hardware that could be used in anything from a data center to a mobile device. It has terabytes of storage and a much smaller power draw than today’s computing devices—all because of memristor-based memory and optical interconnects.
"Fidelity is among the true believers. The investment giant is rebuilding its IT operations around a private cloud datacenter architecture, and it's embracing OCP-inspired hardware as part of that change. OCP designs now account for a third of Fidelity's servers, and George Brady, executive VP of IT, expects that figure will grow to 80%. HP and Dell designs will provide the other 20%.
Fidelity has been moving away from Tier 1 suppliers to custom or "white box" suppliers such as ZT Systems, Avnet, Penguin, and Hyve, Brady says. The prices Fidelity pays for servers have declined 50% over the 2-1/2 years since the company started buying OCP-inspired systems from the custom builders, he says."
“The new Chromebook boasts an 11.6-in. 1366 x 768 display. That's slightly smaller than the 12.1-in. 1280 x 800 displays on the previous Chromebook models, but at a glance, it's hard to tell much of a difference. The screen certainly isn't the most eye-catching, high-def display you've ever seen, but with its matte finish, it's easy on the eyes and perfectly suited for things like Web browsing, email and document-oriented work.
Above the display there's a webcam and microphone for online video chatting. The Chromebook has a headphone jack and SD card slot on its left side; along the back you'll find one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port, the power connection and a slot for a SIM card. This last appears to be nothing more than a placeholder -- Google confirmed to me that this model is Wi-Fi-only and that a 3G-capable version will launch at some point in the future.
While the device includes 16GB of local SSD storage, buyers also get 100GB of cloud-based Google Drive storage for two years -- a subscription that would cost $120 if bought outright. “
A looming clash between Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. will take center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas, with both chipmakers seeking to control the future of mobile devices.
Qualcomm Chief Executive Officer Paul Jacobs will demonstrate notebook computers based on his company's chips on Jan. 10, highlighting a push into an area dominated by Intel. Later that day, Intel CEO Paul Otellini will take the same stage to announce phones featuring his chips, renewing a decade-long push to get into a market that Qualcomm controls.