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HP Hardware Technology

HP Unveils 'The Machine,' a New Computer Architecture 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the generic-names-are-all-the-rage dept.
pacopico writes: HP Labs is trying to make a comeback. According to Businessweek, HP is building something called The Machine. It's a type of computer architecture that will use memristors for memory and silicon photonics for interconnects. Their plan is to ship within the next few years. As for The Machine's software, HP plans to build a new operating system to run on the novel hardware. The new computer is meant to solve a coming crisis due to limitations around DRAM and Flash. About three-quarters of HP Labs personnel are working on this project.
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HP Unveils 'The Machine,' a New Computer Architecture

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  • by The123king (2395060) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @02:00PM (#47214557)
    What's the point in running a brand new OS on it? Is HP-UX not good enough? Or the many other *NIX's? I'll put money on Linux being ported to it before it even ships to Joe Public
  • Hail Mary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @02:05PM (#47214645) Homepage

    It’s a bold strategy Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for them.

    If this doesn't work out, I can't see HP staying in business as an independent company.

  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @02:14PM (#47214761)

    The article yammers on and on about how the O/S will be built based on memory-driven I/O instead of file-system based I/O. However, IBM's i/OS (a.k.a. OS/400) has been built on memory-mapped I/O from the beginning (circa 1988.) (And it has a DB-driven "filesystem" that Microsoft has been unable to ship despite about 25 years of failure.)

    I know it's not quite the same thing, but I cannot imagine that this new O/S will somehow eliminate the need for flash and/or disk. I don't see them managing to get the memristor cost down enough to entirely replace disk/flash. If they had actually shipped some of the things before now, I could maybe believe it, but they haven't.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @02:15PM (#47214787)

    Well, Meg Whitman had the guts to say "Find them some money" when HPLabs proposed the "Machine." I wish HP all the success.

    It is about time some corporation stepped up to the plate other than Apple and jump-starts mega-improvement in major devices.

    My first time sharing "Mini-computer" (was not mini sized), desktop engineering computer (using mag-strips pre-HP45), & then the HP35-41-45-75 were all incredible computing devices for their day.

  • Re:Inspiring (Score:5, Interesting)

    by asmkm22 (1902712) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @02:21PM (#47214863)
    I don't think you quite understand what they are doing here. They are essentially getting rid of the "slow disk, fast memory" method of computing by combining storage and memory into a single unit. If they make it work, then it will be a game-changer for lots of industries.
  • by gamanimatron (1327245) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @05:33PM (#47217095) Journal

    When your 500GB "disk" is directly addressable on the system bus and has the same latency as RAM, some of the design decisions in existing *nix look a bit questionable. Example: Does the additional work of implementing virtual memory (fundamental to most kernels) still make sense? How necessary is a file system *at all*? Could it be replaced with some other method of indexing data?

    You certainly could just stick most of the storage in a ramdisk and run linux, but there might be massive performance gains to be had in the file (data?) serving and database spaces if the server software and the kernel it's running on are designed specifically for stable direct addressing of everything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @06:49PM (#47217721)

    Eh? Ever used as AS/400 (System i)? Only the biggest-selling mini-computer system of its time. OS/400 had "flat" addressing, treats disc addresses and memory as the same space. And don't give me that BS about performance - I used to run an entry-level model (9406 E35) supporting >250 green screens with 48 MB (yes, megabytes) of main memory, and still achieve sub-second response times at the terminals. Response times at the Windows PCs were a bit slower, but they were using screen-scraped adaptations of the terminal-based programs.

    UNIX/linux-based systems are certainly flexible and relatively cheap, but they're not the only solution. If HP goes about this the right way, there could be a specialist market for it.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <.ten.3dlrow. .ta. .ojom.> on Thursday June 12, 2014 @08:18AM (#47220955) Homepage

    Previous attempts to do away with directory-based filesystems and go with a sea of tagged documents and a metadata database have crashed on the rocks of low disk performance. But those ideas are good in principle, they just weren't appropriate for actual hardware.

    They were always a terrible idea because they don't scale in the human mind. For a music collection you can just about deal with artist name, album name, song name... But even when it comes to things like "genera" how many people can remember if a particular song they want to hear counts a pop, or rock, or soft rock, or maybe it was prog-rock, or is that "prog rock" or "progrock"?

    It gets worse for documents. With a folder system you can drill down. It serves as a memory aid. With tags you need to search and sift through search results unless you can remember the name of that particular thing you needed, or some other fairly unique identifier. I'd contend that tagging is more effort than organizing in folders too, especially if you want to change tags in bulk without separating collections of related documents accidentally.

    There are ways to reduce these problems with fuzzy search terms, hierarchical tags and the like, but they are all just lame attempts to polish a turd.

Truly simple systems... require infinite testing. -- Norman Augustine

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