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HP Hardware

Dell Exec Calls HP's New 'Machine' Architecture 'Laughable' 173

Posted by timothy
from the color-everyone-surprised dept.
jfruh (300774) writes HP's revelation that it's working on a radical new computing architecture that it's dubbed "The Machine" was met with excitement among tech observers this week, but one of HP's biggest competitors remains extremely unimpressed. John Swanson, the head of Dell's software business, said that "The notion that you can reach some magical state by rearchitecting an OS is laughable on the face of it." And Jai Memnon, Dell's research head, said that phase-change memory is the memory type in the pipeline mostly like to change the computing scene soon, not the memristors that HP is working on.
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Dell Exec Calls HP's New 'Machine' Architecture 'Laughable'

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  • Yeah, maybe HP should shut down and give the money back to the shareholders. Right ?

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Did the buy out of Dell happen?

      Because if so they kinda followed through with that idea themselves at least.

  • by The123king (2395060) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @06:28AM (#47235511)
    No-one's interested in his shitty computers anymore
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @09:23AM (#47235943) Homepage

      Nor HP.. HP's quality has tanked hard as well. Most of their Mexico Assembled crap fails quickly. 5 desktops quad i7 top of the line HP boxes, 3 of them had problems that required a major repair like mother board replacement.

      It seems that all the computer makers are just building low grade dog food these days.

      • That's amazing. Raw parts bought at retail seem to be of great and awesome quality nowadays to me. DRAM works, motherboards were slowly perfected, everything gets more efficient, powerful and less noisy. PSU performance is excellent in particular (and no need to spend too much. Vast majority of PC will get by with a 400W or less just fine).

        Now on motherboards that's probably where a company like HP will choose one equivalent to what is sold at about 38 euros, whereas a sane customer will choose at least the

        • by Shag (3737)

          Well, there's a difference between that raw retail part you bought, and an identical mobo in a pre-built PC. A guy I knew did IT at a big paper in... Annapolis, if I recall. Several years ago, they upgraded to shiny new all-in-one PC's all over the newsroom. I don't remember the brand - either HP/Compaq or Gateway, probably. Anyway, a few months in, they start failing, one after another. Turns out a bunch of them had components that had all been in one shipping container in a warehouse - and that conta

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            We had a bunch of LG TV's arrive pre filled with cockroaches. It seems that China is also shipping free pets with many electronic products.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          Actually you are off by a bit. HP motherboards are around the 15-20 euro mark. They use the absolute lowest quality parts they can get their hands on.

          • And then the crippled BIOS (with any OEM) can be a hindrance. You can't lower the FSB, or lower RAM speed, loosen RAM timings, bump memory voltage by 0.1 volt etc. all of which can help stabilize a semi-failed PC again.
            Got lucky with a buddy's Packard Bell mini-PC with "Core 2 Solo" Celeron, all was crippled (BIOS allows to set the date and boot device, that's almost all) but dropping to one stick of DRAM instead of two (no matter which one) saved it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14, 2014 @06:30AM (#47235517)

    If Dell has to misrepresent what HP is doing in one breath while disproving that misrepresentation in the next, just to have a straw man to poke fun at, then Dell must be a little scared.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      If Dell has to misrepresent what HP is doing in one breath while disproving that misrepresentation in the next, just to have a straw man to poke fun at, then Dell must be a little scared.

      Hardly. One company commenting negatively on the R&D project another company is currently trumpeting is a practice so standard you could automate it. This announcement from Dell is about as mind blowing as Tim Cook saying that the iPhone5 is better than the Samsung Galaxy S5. He'd almost be fired for not saying it.

      The presence or absence of such statements are not based on reality and have absolutely zero bearing on how much of a success something will be.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    HP, despite leadership's best efforts throughout the years, still does legitimate innovation. Dell has never done the whole innovation thing.

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @06:53AM (#47235571)
    Dell is a reseller. They do not invest in any of the fundamental technologies like CPUs or Operating Systems. They have no design expertise in virtual machines like the JVM. They don't do chip design or fab. They have never been in any of these businesses.

    HP has a long history of OS and CPU design, including their own computers with a proprietary architecture. Not all of their designs were successful, since they were co-designers of the Itanium with Intel. So HP has the exactly opposite corporate background the Dell.

    Why would anyone pay attention to what a Dell talking head has to say?

    • Why would anyone pay attention to what a Dell talking head has to say?

      DUUUude, that's harsh.

    • It is obvious that HP has been important in the development of computers. Dell seems to be concentrated on sales and producing computers that tend to be clunky and in my opinion crowded enough internally to be durable and unable to use third party hardware. I simply do not enjoy Dell's desktops.
    • Putin doesn't need Dell's "help" either, just watch his eyebrows [youtube.com] hit the ceiling when the Dell CEO offers it. Eyebrow event occurs ~1:00.
    • by pepty (1976012) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @08:58AM (#47235893)
      HP has a long history of OS, CPU, and other types of tech design, but they lost a lot of that when they spun off Agilent. Since then HP's budget for research, not to mention the researchers/departments themselves, have been slashed. They are not down to Dell levels of R&D yet, but that seems to be the trend.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        Why talk in generalities about brands? Let's just compare the work. What project is Dell working on that's comparable to "The Machine"? Nothing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      "HP has a long history of OS and CPU design, including their own computers with a proprietary architecture."

      and nobody works there anymore that does that, They fired all the high paid specialists years ago.

      The HP of today is not even worthy to stand in the shadow of the HP of yesterday.

      • and nobody works there anymore that does that, They fired all the high paid specialists years ago.

        They're all dead. It was that long ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What an executive from Dell, a company that is almost single-handedly stifling innovation in the computer industry by continuing to push enormous volumes of generic wintel garbage out onto the market to the exclusion of anything else/new/better/etc, has to say about innovation.

  • Dell is rendered irrelevant nowadays. So they are looking for publicity to stay in the minds of the few who still like to hold on to the crap of yesteryears like my attachment to toshiba libretto mini laptops.

    Bad mouthing others is often a good way to get publicity. They will be rendered mute by industry in a few weeks like qcomm's 64bit outcry - necessarily pointing out -"waa waa, he did it while I couldn't".

    When did dell get any innovative stuff out ? Their business model in the beginning was probably the

  • It is not CPU and Memory being the two main core components of modern computing fabric. Instead, it is the inter-connect and memory, and with these two, new high performance operating system would have to be developed.
    If you look at today's data center processing vast amount of data, you can see that most of the space is not taken by servers with CPUs.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      If you look at today's data center

      Most of the space is typically taken up with disks but that's irrelevant, just like it was in the 1960s, the important thing is what you actually do with the data and not how much you can hoard.

      Instead, it is the inter-connect and memory

      While for some tasks I would really like to see direct connections between CPUs in different cases/racks and vast amounts of shared memory so a cluster can be treated as a single machine in more than an abstract sense I think I'm in the mino

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It is not CPU and Memory being the two main core components of modern computing fabric. Instead, it is the inter-connect and memory,

      How far will you get without your CPU? You can't execute one instruction. You can't even POST. The CPU and memory are the two main core components of modern computing fabric.

  • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @07:14AM (#47235603) Journal
    HP is their competitor. HP just announced that they're working on something that even if the entire thing doesn't come to fruition, likely some part will and it will change the computing landscape. Understand, this announcement is pointed directly at Dell's share holders.

    Best case scenario HP actually pulls it off and they've got some radically fast system running something that looks like Linux.
    Mid case scenario, they figure out how to make memsistors at scale and then sell licences for everybody to make blisteringly fast SSD's, etc. Then others come along and figure out how to put the pieces together. HP makes out like a bandit in royalties, etc.
    Worse case, nothing comes out of this. HP shrugs, files a whole pile of patent applications. Someone else takes bits and pieces of it (like IBM) and does cool things with it. In all three cases HP is going to be enhance their IP portfolio and possibly make their stock worth more.

    All of those scenarios are bad for Dell. Dell doesn't do fundamental science. They design motherboards that use components supplied by everybody else and crank out cheap computers. If scenario #1 comes true... HP is NOT going to sell any of this to Dell, cutting them out of the market. If scenario #2 comes true, HP is going to get these components at a price that Dell can't compete with. If the last scenario comes true, Dell still ends up being a VAR like everybody else and HP racks in royalties.

    The CEO of Dell is almost obligated to thrown cold water all over this, otherwise Dell shareholders are naturally going to ask if this announcement is going to make Dells stock worth less and/or worthless.
    • some radically fast system running something that looks like Linux.

      If it looked like Linux, it most certainly wouldn't be "radically fast". Or at least "radically faster than Linux on commodity HW". You really have to throw away all your preconceptions - and your existing SW - if you want to really reap the benefits of huge non-volatile random access storage. Why would you design screaming-fast hardware and then cripple it with inadequate software? Especially if it's new and expensive technology.

      • by wjcofkc (964165)
        Just because something looks like Linux or any *nix does not mean that it can't actually be fundamentally and radically different under the hood. The likes of Bash, csh, zsh, etc. are still the most powerful ways to interact with a computer - by far and away. The Unix console has survived as the ultimate interface since the sixties for a very good reason. Extending a shell to take advantage of new hardware functionality would actually make sense in this case: it's powerful, and admins would already know how
        • Just because something looks like Linux or any *nix does not mean that it can't actually be fundamentally and radically different under the hood.

          Linux is a un*xy system. It's all built around the notion of byte streams, also known as files, organized in a hierarchical fashion, optimized for streamed (or at least semi-random, block-sized) access. This new hardware brings the promise of persistent heaps. How exactly do you propose to design an OS for that, keeping the benefits of persistent data objects, while running applications working on serialized data on top of that? That "fundamentally and radically different" thingy underneath the file-emulati

          • by wjcofkc (964165) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @08:39AM (#47235833)
            If you read the original article about the technology, they have competing OS development teams. One of them is working on a new Open Source "Machine OS", another team is working on developing a modified version of Linux to take advantage of what the platform could potentially offer. As long as they are bothering to do that at all, I would say they know what they are doing and have a working answer to your question:

            How exactly do you propose to design an OS for that, keeping the benefits of persistent data objects, while running applications working on serialized data on top of that?

            • I've read it. But the Linux endeavor is really nothing else than detox. There is no "working answer" for that, it will be like running legacy DOS software in DOSBox on a Core i7 machine. Just because people are doing just that doesn't mean that Intel is advocating writing new DOS software as the preferred way of software development for Core i7.
              • Firstly, I'd forgotten that Dell had gone private. So replace stockholders with enterprise customers who buy dells higher end servers. That's where the high margin stuff is.
                The beauty of the UNIX operating systems is the simple idea that everything is a file, period. Knocking down the wall between the filesystem which is just a file and memory which is just a file is a matter of semantics and drivers. So you've got an in memory file system, this filesystem instead of inodes has memory offsets. Getting
          • Its called mmio, mmap() specifically. Linux already has xip support on some platforms as well. This is all under the hood too, the libc could be redesigned, or insert your favorite language here. I agree that writing code optimized for it might be a bit different but its not that different than writing for an all-sram platform like say the old palm.

            • I'm perfectly aware of mmap. I'm just not sure if anyone has ever run large scale automated memory management on something like that (mmap over TB-sized files, for example). The solutions we have for that, like Azul's C4, have some pretty strict requirements as to what the HW has to be able to do.
    • Announcements from executive leadership to ownership are made via boardroom table, not to reporters.

      If you want to make an argument that Dell's 'announcement' was made to Dell customers or partners, you might be able to make a case. But the thought that they're 'announcing' this to rally support of shareholders is laughable.

    • by dfghjk (711126)

      - Swanson is not Dell's CEO
      - Dell is under no obligation to comment, they could opt to do what all of HP's other competitors do
      - Dell is privately held, it has no shareholders
      - modern HP has proven incapable of delivering tech that leads
      - other companies already ARE selling NV Ram technologies into storage markets, HP won't be getting royalties on this
      - HP doesn't have to sell to Dell, but they have to sell to somebody. They won't establish anything as standard on their own
      - Building a business on crappy p

    • "Worse case, nothing comes out of this. HP shrugs, files a whole pile of patent applications. Someone else takes bits and pieces of it (like IBM) and does cool things with it. In all three cases HP is going to be enhance their IP portfolio and possibly make their stock worth more."

      Aren' patents great. Even if you fail to invent anything that works you can just file a general patent for the technology and claim royalties on a design that someone else actually gets to work, in perpetuity.

    • HP just announced that they're working on something that even if the entire thing doesn't come to fruition, likely some part will and it will change the computing landscape.

      Fucking hell, will it cure cancer too?

      I'll believe it when I see it.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @07:25AM (#47235631)
    Or an idiot. Or a scared idiot.

    The notion that you can reach some magical state by rearchitecting an OS is laughable on the face of it

    Why, thank you, Captain Obvious! It's not about rearchitecting an OS, it's about matching SW to the HW. For ages, we've had the distinction between block-addressed devices with streamed access and byte-addressed devices (mostly DRAMs) for low-latency. Virtually all our software is impedance-matched to that idea! I believe the only thing remotely close to how a machine with huge persistent RAM should (would?) work are those nice Azul boxes, with zero-pause automated memory management even on 500GB+ heaps. Those machines still use RAM and have disk I/O for ordinary data manipulation, but I'm convinced that had the Azul people had non-volatile RAMs at that time, they would have gone for persistent objects. It's such an obvious idea! No more serializing and deserializing for disk I/O (except for backups, of course), performance on the order of millions of transactions per second. Obviously the price is that you absolutely have to rewrite the software bottom-up, otherwise all that extra performance potential gets lost.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      "Obviously the price is that you absolutely have to rewrite the software bottom-up, otherwise all that extra performance potential gets lost."

      Which is a GOOD THING (tm). The current state of software quality is horrid, anything to force a rewrite will be a very good thing.

      • by CBravo (35450)
        They should not only redesign software for CPU architecture. Most software is created for a single cpu and a single memory space. In real life we have multiple processors, multiple kinds of memory (cache, ram, disk/ssd, raid, san, distributed file systems), network interfaces between server and client (what do you consider 'an application' on the internet?).

        And while we are at it: We have issues with software reuse, bugs (in general) and testability, security. Software development is in the pre-industri
      • > anything to force a rewrite will be a very good thing.

        Have you ever tried to debug a major of piece of software that has been re-architected, from the ground up? Most of the performance benefits are lost in relearning the lessons that the original authors solved in their early releases with the original architecture. The specific benefits that were used to justify the re-architecture are usually not only lost, but overwhelmed and buried in the lost performance, downtime, and shear wasted manpower of re

    • What is needed to process large amounts of data is a massively parallel data-flow architecture - something resembling a hardware implementation of SQL. The ICL DAP is an early example. The Cell processors in your Playstation 3 are a half baked attempt at the same thing. You would probably still want a conventional processor to supervise it, and probably to compile the programs.

      It is not difficult to make one of these using conventional; silicon.

      It is hard as hell to get funding and sell it. If you actu

      • How well does dataflow architecture with random access data structures? Indices etc.? For that matter, how would it run something like AllegroGraph? (Given that this is another interesting area of application for such machines.)
        • Very well, actually. It takes some smarts in the dataflow graph construction, but it does work (we're also not talking about the same type of code, but processing of back-references in the flowgraph - there are actually good functional algorithms that have better amortized costs (see Chris Okasaki's Purely Functional Data Structures for examples).

          That being said, the main issue with dataflow was that the dataflow nodes were always proposed at the level of granularity of a Von Neumann instruction set. In fa

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Or an idiot. Or a scared idiot.

      A simpler explanation is that he's simply one of the top managers at a competitor. What was he supposed to say, HP are amazing? How long do you think he'd still have his job?

      In other news Tim Cook thinks the iPhone is better than anything Samsung have come up with. Surprise!

  • I think memsistors will give us human-like computers
  • by Karganeth (1017580) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @07:33AM (#47235651)
    Memristors are a fundamental change in computation. Fuck dell and their bullshit spewing CEOs. Burn in hell dell.
    • No they aren't. Memristors are a trivial change in how you implement a low-level feature. Its like whether you use polythene or polycarbonate for your capacitors.

      While I would be quite happy for Dell to burn in hell, taking i86 architecture with them, a new computer architecture is a completely different plot from new implementations of memory or a new software design. Memristors are not even content addressible memory - which have been done in silicon, and shown to make text searching and jump tables (ca

  • by skovnymfe (1671822) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @07:35AM (#47235659)
    I wonder if this applies: First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.
    • First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you.

      And most of the time that's where it stops, because the idea was ridiculous.

      • Last I read they were throwing a lot of people and a lot of money at it, so maybe they see something in it you don't.
  • uh no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday June 14, 2014 @07:44AM (#47235673) Homepage Journal

    "The notion that you can reach some magical state by rearchitecting an OS is laughable on the face of it," John Swainson, head of Dell's software business, told reporters in San Francisco Thursday when asked to comment on the work.

    Well, sure, you also have to rearchitect the hardware, which is what HP is talking about. John Swainson is an idiot. Sadly, the richest idiots with the best-connected families fail upwards rather than downwards. This is why we can't have nice things.

    • by fleebait (1432569)

      It might be just a little more than just a game changer.

      Stop thinking about computers as boxes with wires, screens and disks, and start thinking about building the nervous system of a human being. Our bodies use distributed computing all over the place, with the vagus nervous system for the organs, with their own chemical memories, and feedback loops, the localized muscle memory systems for arms, legs, fingers, locally stored programs that run semi-autonomously.

      If you read about memristors on Wikipedia, you

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        How do you organize your brain? Do you have file cabinets, with tabs, disks? pictures? No, it's some sort of random access sensory system that relates to previously accessed information. Something like the memristors they are talking about.

        Memristors are predominantly a way to build things we already know how to build, but more efficiently. No one knows how the brain stores information. It is known that it is possible to create an index to information in your brain by imagining file cabinets, or rooms, or some other sort of containers. I forget things all the time, but my PC doesn't.

  • by Alejux (2800513) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @08:14AM (#47235745)
    ...am super excited to see what kind of algorithms and applications could benefit from this kind of architecture: artificial intelligence, computer vision, ray-tracing, etc...
  • Articles should include a link to the relevant video.

    I found this gif of the event: http://stream1.gifsoup.com/vie... [gifsoup.com]

    You're welcome.

  • Of course the software guy at Dell is going to make noise about anything that competes with Microsoft. If it wasn't for them he wouldn't have a job.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @01:05PM (#47236907)

    The computer industry has been in a state of mild panic for several years.

    Why?

    I think Dell have a lot to answer for.

    See, you go back in time twenty years, there was a lot more competition. Small computer stores in every town, larger companies doing mail order and such - you could pick up any computer magazine and 50-70% of it would be adverts.

    But there is one small problem. Virtually none of those companies were run by people who had a fucking clue how to design or sell a product. About all they knew was how to assemble components into a functioning computer and flog the end result - they'd essentially industrialised the process of buying components and building your own computer.

    Easiest business model in the world, on paper at least. You just had to get the components in, build your computers and get adverts in the magazines quickly enough that you could shift everything before it became obsolete and you were left with stock that you'd have to sell at a loss just to shift it.

    There was just one small problem. There was precisely no imagination behind it. Pretty much the only selling point anyone could come up with was "We are cheaper than our competitors!". And if an entire industry spends twenty years using that as their selling point, sooner or later what will happen is it really will be the only noticeable difference. Once that happens, you are competing with the Wal-Marts and the Dells of this world and you're competing with them on their terms. A combination of mergers, acquisitions and wholesale business collapses has led us to where we are today - if you tried to resurrect some of those old print magazines and called up all your old advertisers to ask if they'd be interested in taking out an ad, 90% of them are out of business.

    HP, it seems, have finally had enough. They're throwing in the towel in this race to the bottom - they've decided that rather than bet the company on being 2% cheaper than Dell on average this quarter, they're going to bet the company on doing the same thing but doing it better. Frankly, this is a refreshing change and one that the entire industry is in dire need of.

  • by l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) on Saturday June 14, 2014 @03:51PM (#47237539)
    Working at HP (in the ES department), I am glad to hear this kind of news. Meg has a very tough plan to implement; our team THINKS we're safe from this year's layoff (new team, ITIL requires us, we do SM for AA and soon UA too after the merger's done) and ANY investments in something new is a good thing, even if it fails. Go big or go home; at least we're trying to do something. A huge chunk of our services are VM based, 40-100 servers in a blade rack. If this works well, just my department has two huge datacenters that could use this right now...and I have no idea how many datacenters there are company-wide as we're basically what's left of SABRE / EDS. This is basically the single "golden ray of hope" of something actually new happening with our company!

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