What is The Machine, HP’s new super computer?

what is the machine hps new super computer themachine1
An increasing number of websites and cloud services manage huge and complex amounts of data, and that’s growing at an exponential rate. That’s a problem for some though, including computer manufacturer HP.

“Toward the end of this decade, data growth will come at us at a rate that surpasses the ability of our current infrastructure to evolve to ingest, store and analyze it,” HP says. “A step change in computing technology is required.”

In other words, HP is saying that what we’re doing now won’t suffice for much longer. We need something much faster and more capable of storing massive amounts of data in smaller spaces. To that end, HP recently announced its solution to the problem— dubbed “The Machine,” which is an all new supercomputer so efficient that, the company says, it can drastically reduce the space required by an entire data center.

Gigantic database-driven sites, such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google, are powered by massive data centers filled with racks upon racks of powerful integrated servers with formidable appetites for electricity. While this approach has been a viable solution so far, a major problem with these humongous server farms, is that, while you can expand capacity and increase computing power by simply adding more servers, more servers require more space and, alas, more power.

What is The Machine?

Two important components of The Machine are a new type of memory HP calls “memristors,” as well as a new data transfer system that uses silicon photonics. Memristors are a highly dense and fast memory type. An alternative to copper wire, silicon photonics will send data via lasers, which, according to HP, are about a quarter of the diameter of human hair. Switching to photonics in data centers would increase data transfers to about 160 petabytes in 250 nanoseconds—while using much less energy.

Not just servers

According to HP, HP Labs, the company’s R&D division, has been working on The Machine for about two years, reportedly committing as much as 75 percent of the lab’s personnel to work on this project. The company, according to CTO Martin Fink, not only believes that The Machine is a workable server technology, but that it can be adapted to power smartphones, PCs, and tablets. The Machine will, HP says, bring us supercharged mobile computing devices with storage capacities up to 100TB.

That’s many times more storage than the average laptop has today. Pools of processors and memory chips connected by photonic cables could carry up to 6TBps of data. As you might suspect, none of today’s operating systems are really designed to manage these massive amounts of data. Hence, HP plans to build a The Machine OS from the ground up, as well as versions for Linux and Google’s mobile OS.

However, as is the case with so many new and powerful computing technologies, HP’s initial focus will most likely be servers. Whether this technology— if it takes off at all —trickles down to PCs, laptops, and other mobile devices depends on a lot of factors, including but not limited to developments by other computer makers. IBM, for example, has made significant headway toward its 12-core Power8 CPU. The point is, HP won’t be developing The Machine in a vacuum without incurring competing ideas from other computer makers.

When will we see The Machine?

HP hasn’t announced a fixed timeline yet, but the company hopes The Machine-based devices will start rolling out by about 2018. That sounds rather ambitious, considering that, in addition to a lot of hardware, we’re looking at a new OS as well.

Most likely, it will probably be even closer to the end of the decade before we start seeing computing devices based on The Machine. In any case, computing devices and the Internet itself could be in for an overhaul if HP has its way.

Computing

An inside look at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx, a revolutionary laptop processor

Six years after Microsoft’s failed foray into ARM computing with Windows RT, its second effort with Always-Connected PC is now showing early signs of success. Microsoft partner Qualcomm told us how the Snapdragon 8cx might revolutionize…
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Computing

Why limit yourself to one OS? Try one of these great virtual machine apps

Buying a new computer just because you want to utilize another operating system isn't necessary. Just use the best virtual machine applications to emulate one OS inside another, no matter what your platform or budget is.
Product Review

Spacious and intuitive, Samsung's Family Hub makes the case for the smart fridge

Samsung's 28-cubic-feet Family Hub fridge aims to not only keep your food cool, but also be the brains of your home via a large computer screen on the outside panel door. Just how smart is it?
Computing

3DMark’s Port Royal lets you benchmark ray tracing on Nvidia’s RTX cards

UL is adding another benchmarking utility to its popular 3DMark suite to help gamers measure their graphics card's ray tracing performance. You'll soon be able to measure how Nvidia's RTX 2070, 2080, and 2080 Ti stack up.
Computing

Snatch Apple’s 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro for up to $1,200 off at B&H

The latest deal at B&H is offering up 2017 15-inch Apple MacBook Pros, in space gray and silver, with Intel Core i7 quad-core CPUs, 16GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon Pro 560 GPUs with up to 2TB of SSD storage.
Computing

I tried an LTE laptop for a month, and I wasn’t really convinced

LTE laptops offer up plenty of benefits and are becoming more common. After spending one month with one in my daily life in New York City, I really wondered if it is something that consumers really need in their lives.
Computing

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Computing

Qualcomm’s dual-screen PC concept looks like two connected Surface Go tablets

In Qualcomm's video teaser, we got a glimpse of the company's vision for how a dual-screen ARM PC should work. The internet reacted to Qualcomm's video, calling the device in question merely a mashup of two Surface Go tablets.
Deals

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.
Computing

Hololens 2 could give the Always Connected PC a new, ‘aggressive’ form

Microsoft is said to be leaning on Qualcomm to power its Hololens 2 headset. Instead of Intel CPUs, the next Hololens could use a Snapdragon 850 processor, allowing it to benefit from the always-connected features.
Computing

Chrome’s dark mode may cast its shadow over Macs by early 2019

By early 2019 Google may release a version of Chrome for Mac users that offers a Dark Mode feature to match MacOS Mojave's recent darkening.