HP Moonshot

We discussed the HP Moonshot back in April 2013. The Moonshot is HP's answer to SeaMicro's SM15000: a large 4.3U chassis with no less than 45 cartridges that share three different fabrics: network, storage, and clustering. Each cartridge can contain one to four micro servers or "nodes". Just like a blade server, cooling (five fans), power (four PSUs), and uplinks are shared.

Back in April 2013, the only available cartridge was based on the anemic Atom S1260, a real shame for such an excellent chassis. Since Q4 2014, HP now offers six different cartridges ranging from the Opteron X2150 (m700) to the rather powerful Xeon E3-1284Lv3 (m710). The different models are all tailored to specific workloads. The m700 is meant to be used in a Citrix virtual desktop environment while the m710 is targeted at video transcoding. We tested the m400 (X-Gene 2.4), m300 (Atom C2750), and m350 (four Atom C2730 nodes) cartridges.

The m400 is the first server we have seen that uses the 64-bit ARMv8 AppliedMicro X-Gene. HP positions the m400 as the heir of mobile computing, and touts its energy efficiency. Other differentiators are memory bandwidth and capacity. The X-Gene has a quad-channel memory controller and as a result is the only cartridge with eight DIMMs. We were very interested in understanding how X-Gene would compare to the Intel Xeons. HP positions the m400 as the micro server for web caching (memcached) and web applications (LAMP). The m400 also comes with beefy storage: you can order a 480GB SSD with a SATA or M.2 interface.

The m300 cartridge is based on the Atom C2750 with support for up to 32GB of RAM. HP positions this cartridge as "web infrastructure in a box". The m400 is mostly about web caching and the web front-end while the m300 seems destined to run the complete stack (front- and back-end). However, it is clear that there is some overlap between the m300 and m400 as there's nothing to stop you from running a complete "web infrastructure" on the m400 if it runs well in 32GB or less.

The m350 cartridge is all about density: you get four nodes in one cartridge. There is a trade-off however: you are limited to 16GB of RAM and can only use M.2 flash storage, limited to 64GB.

Each node of the m350 is powered by one of Intel's most interesting SKUs, the 1.7GHz 8-core Atom C2730 that has a very low 12W TDP. The m350 is positioned as a way to offer managed hosting on physical (as opposed to virtualized) servers in a cost effective way.

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  • IBleedOrange - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    EETimes is wrong.
    Google "Intel Denverton"
  • beginner99 - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    Maybe it would be good to mention the X-Gene is made on a 40nm process at the start of the article. I read the article and think for myself that the X-Gene is crap and in the end you get the explanation. It's on 40 nm vs Atoms on Intel 22 nm. It's a huge difference and currently the article is a bit misleading eg. shining a bad light on X-Gene and ARM. (And I say this even though I always was a proponent of Intel Big cores in almost all server applications).
  • Stephen Barrett - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    If APM had a newer part to test then we would have tested it. XG2 is simply not out yet. So the fact that APM has their flagship SoC on an older process is not misleading... Its the facts. The currently available Intel parts have a process advantage.
  • warreo - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    Mentioning it at the start would be good from a technical disclosure standpoint, but I'm not sure for the purposes of this article it truly matters. The article is comparing what is currently available now from APM and Intel. Reality is Intel will likely have a significant process advantage for the foreseeable future, and if you wanted to see a like for like comparison on a process basis, then you'll probably need to wait 2-3 years for X-Gene to get on 22nm, meanwhile Intel will have moved on to 10nm.
  • CajunArson - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    The 40nm process is only really relevant when it comes to the power-consumption comparisons.
    A 28nm.. or 20nm or 16nm... part with the same cores at the same clockspeeds will register the exact same level of performance. The only difference will be that the smaller lithographic processes should provide that level of performance in a smaller power envelope.
  • JohanAnandtech - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    well, with so much time invested in an article, I always hope people will read the pages between page 1 and 18 too :-p. It is mentioned in the overview of the SoCs on page 5 and quite a few times at other pages too.
  • colinstu - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    what server is on the bottom of the first page?
  • JohanAnandtech - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    A very old MSI server :-). Just to show people what webfarms used before the micro server era.
  • Samus - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    I use the Xeon E3-1230v3 in desktop applications all the time. It's basically an i7 for the price of an i5.

    And a lot of IT dept dump them on eBay cheap when they upgrade their servers. They can be had well under $200 lightly used. The 80w TDP could theoretically have some drawbacks for boost time, but the real-world performance according to passmark elongated tests doesn't seem to show any difference between it's boost potential and that of an 88w i7-k

    Great CPU's.
  • Alone-in-the-net - Monday, March 9, 2015 - link

    In both your compilers, you need to specify the -march=native so the the compiler can optimize for the architecture you are running on, -o3 is not enough. This enables the compiler to use cpu specific commands.

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