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HP Launches Low-Power Project Gemini Server

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted June 19, 2012


HP is advancing its low power server vision with the new Project Gemini server chassis, announced today. Project Gemini is part of HP's Moonshot effort first announced in November.

Moonshot is all about engineering a new class of server architecture that delivers scale-out compute power while using less electrical power than traditional server infrastructure. The first Moonshot server debuted as the Redstone Server and was powered by ARM Cortex processors from Calxeda. The new generation is now being called Gemini, and the initial launch partner silicon is a new class of x86 Atom CPUs from Intel, called Centerton.

The Intel Atom Centerton has 64-bit support, hardware virtualization (VTx) and error correcting code (ECC) memory. Additionally, in contrast to Intel's traditional Xeon server CPUs, the Centerton platform works at a very low power level.HP Moonshot Servers

In a press event to mark the Gemini launch, Jason Waxman, General Manager for Cloud Infrastructure at Intel's Data Center and Connected Systems Group, said that for a typical Gemini workload the Centerton will work in a 12 to 14 Watt power envelope. In contrast, an Intel Xeon would require at least 150 Watts of power for the same workload.

While the initial chip platform being talked about for Gemini is from Intel, the overall platform is chip agnostic according to HP. As such, both Intel x86 as well as Calxeda ARM chips could work in a Gemini server.

"Gemini is a server infrastructure that can accommodate cartridges that are based on different processor types," Paul Santeler, vice president and general manager, Hyperscale Business Unit, Industry-standard Servers and Software at HP, told InternetNews. "This way we can address a variety of workloads in a single infrastructure."

One of the initial launch partners with the Redstone platform is Canonical, the lead sponsor behind the Ubuntu Linux platform, and with Gemini, Linux once again is leading the way.

"HP has a number of operating system partners — Canonical and Red Hat, for example," stated Santeler. "Most of the workloads that are currently targeted are running on Linux or open source, but we are always working with additional partners for broader availability."

The initial use cases for the low-power Gemini servers include hosting, content delivery networks (CDNs) and data analytics. Santeler noted that HP sees a lot of CDNs that have large I/O requirements with smaller compute processoring requirements.

On the analytics side, Santeler said that applications like memcached, where a workload is divided into smaller chunks, are ideal for a large high scale-out server like Gemini with Intel Centerton.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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