SERVER VENDOR HP believes Intel's Centerton and Avoton processors will be used for general purpose computing on its Moonshot servers but touted AMD's graphics capabilities for computationally-intensive workloads.
HP launched its second generation Moonshot servers at the start of the week, leaving many spectators surprised at the firm's decision to lead with Intel's year-old Centerton Atom processor. Now the firm has told The INQUIRER that it expects the Intel-based cartridges, which will include one based on Intel's Avoton Atom in the second half of this year, to be popular for those that rely on general purpose computing.
Paul Santeler, VP and GM of HP's Hyperscale Business, told The INQUIRER that he believes Intel's ability to create a chip that is well suited to general workloads will make cartridges based on its chips popular with customers. When asked whether Intel based cartridges are seen as general purpose compute nodes he replied, "I think so. Intel has done a very good job of optimising their CPU design to hit that main part of the marketplace."
However Santeler did speak up for other vendors including Texas Instruments and especially AMD. In particular he praised Texas Instruments' inclusion of digital signal processors (DSP) on its Keystone chip and touted AMD's graphics capabilities as being "very strong".
Santeler said, "I think other people such as AMD have got a very strong graphics capability and that is going to be great for that solution we are going to bring online from AMD, because it's going to be very good for doing video transcoding, video analysis, virtual desktop infrastructure, video gaming and I think every one of our partners bring something different to the marketplace for us."
AMD's Moonshot cartridge, which uses a chip the firm has codenamed Kyoto, is pencilled for arrival in the second half of 2013 and will have a TDP of 11W. The firm said in a statement, "With the 'Kyoto' APU power consumption as low as 11W, including the integrated GPU, we are targeting optimised total cost of ownership for media-oriented workloads such as hosted desktop, online gaming and image processing, to name a few."
Santeler also said the interconnect fabric that Moonshot cartridges use to connect to the chassis will not change for "several generations" of cartridges, but he wouldn't give details about the fabric itself. Santeler did say that the specifications of the fabric are available to any vendor that signs up to make Moonshot cartridges, but it seems unlikely that HP will publicly disclose that performance critical information.
AMD has disclosed very little about its Kyoto accelerated processing unit other than it will be the firm's first system on chip and that it will use 11W. However for AMD, Kyoto is arguably the most important server chip it has put out in years, as it is aimed at what is expected to be a large and rapidly growing market.
While Santeler said Intel's Atom chips will most likely be used for general purpose computing, he seems to have high hopes for more specialist cartridges. Given the computational demands of video transcoding, a fact Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang touted in his GTC keynote, HP and AMD could be onto a profit winner when the Kyoto-based cartridges arrive later this year. µ