HP’s Project Moonshot is an initiative to develop low-energy servers that use less electricity than most of today’s models while offering similar performance. When the company unveiled the project in November, HP planned to use low power ARM-based processors.
But now HP has changed its tune, and the first servers produced as part of the project will be based on Intel Atom x86 processors instead.
Update: HP has contacted us to make it clear that while the first production servers will use Intel Atom chips, the company is still testing ARM-based systems, and that the Gemini server platform is “processor neutral” which means that ARM-based Gemini servers could ship in the future.
Specifically, HP is going with Intel’s “Centerton” chips, which are 6W processors designed for servers.
The Centerton chips offer a few advantages over most current ARM-based chips, including support for 64-bit architecture and hardware virtualization.
HP’s first Moonshot servers are codenamed Gemini, and the company is already testing them in house. They’ll be available for customers to try soon, and HP plans to begin producing Gemini servers by the end of 2012.
This doesn’t necessarily spell the end of ARM-based server development. A company called Calxeda is still pushing the idea of bundling a series of ARM chips together to create low power servers. And the folks at MIT and Phoronix have been playing with computer clusters with as many as 96 ARM-based processor cores.
But HP had been one of the highest profile companies to be investigating the use of ARM processors for servers, so the move to Intel chips does look like a bit of a setback.
On the other hand, it’s still a step forward for the push for lower power consumption in commercial servers.
Update: Server Watch reports that HP says its Gemini server infrastructure can handle different types of processors, so future devices could theoretically still use ARM-based chips. But the first Gemini servers to ship this year will use Intel Atom Centerton processors.