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HPE gives its memory-driven computing initiative another try

HPE has brought its memory-driven computing architecture back into the spotlight, this time with a little help from its friends to meet enterprises' future IT infrastructure needs.

LAS VEGAS - Hewlett Packard Enterprises' long talked about memory-driven computing architecture has inched closer to reality.

HPE's Hewlett Packard Labs and HPE Pointnext organizations will work with more adventurous users to deliver proof-of-concept applications that exploit the company's memory-driven architecture, known as The Machine project when first introduced in 2014.

That system featured a collection of next-generation technologies, including memory, processors and storage, which aim to process and analyze large amounts of data significantly faster. But the project failed to advance beyond the conceptual stage into a commercially viable system due to a number of technical difficulties to mesh together the disparate, complex technologies. Also, HPE couldn't deliver practical applications to attract a broad base of corporate users.

"In 2014 when we introduced memory-driven computing and The Machine, it was really just a crude sketch drawn up on a whiteboard in Palo Alto," said Kirk Bresniker, chief architect for HPE's memory-driven computing, at the annual HP Discover conference here this week. "But we knew it had to be bigger than just [HPE's technology] and that we had to engage our supply chain, our software and services partners -- and frankly, some competitors."

Some analysts agreed that The Machine was more a lab experiment than a commercially viable product.

Patrick Moorhead, Moor Insights & StrategyPatrick Moorhead

"I never thought The Machine would ever come out as one huge system," said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "All those pieces were on different development cycles so that just wasn't going to happen."

"The Machine was more science fiction than computer science," said one longtime HPE analyst. "A better bet for the short term and the long term is their Moonshot technology. [Moonshot is] the underlying technology used in their new Edgeline Converged Systems, and it's that technology that's finding a home out on the edge."

HPE, users navigate next-gen memory needs

In a collaborative effort from Hewlett Packard Labs and the company's IT services organization, HPE Pointnext, HPE Global IT has created the memory-driven computing operating and development environment for both corporate users and third-party developers. A development sandbox consists of the HPE Superdome Flex server with software-defined scalable memory, which will include next-generation software and firmware that allows Superdome Flex memory fabric to address much larger pools of shared memory, Bresniker said.

I never thought The Machine would ever come out as one huge system [because] all [its] pieces were on different development cycles.
Patrick Moorheadpresident and principal analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy

"This is not finished technology, it's a place for users to go learn and experiment," Bresniker stressed. "They can talk to Pointnext, learn what memory-driven computing can do and then get data onto that platform to see what works for their individual needs."

Travelport, a commerce platform that supplies distribution, technology and payment for the $7 trillion travel industry, launched its first commercial memory-driven computing engagement two months ago. The firm will work with HPE experts to identify the proper performance baseline for infrastructure upgrades, help drive cost-benefits analysis and rearchitect applications to better exploit memory-driven computing.

As HPE engineers work closely with users, both parties should learn from each other's development efforts and spawn new ideas that take memory-driven computing in unforeseen directions, Bresniker said.

"It gives us the chance to do what Bill [Hewlett] and Dave [Packard] always said we should do: Work on your bench, but think about what would motivate the guy working on the next bench," he said.

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