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HP takes giant leap in server design

Tom Henderson | Feb. 11, 2014
Moonshot hyperscale server brings high density and low power consumption to the data center.

This is a radically different server designed to compete with the custom infrastructure being used by some of the major websites and CDNs, but as in scale-out, rather than scale-up. It's not a big machine for virtualization, and indeed the processors don't support but the most rudimentary of virtualization schemes because they're not designed for it.

In aggregate, Moonshot's computational density is comparatively awesome — especially for the power consumed. Nonetheless, it's neither a blade server, or a dense-core server, and it's a dramatic change from an otherwise conservative server vendor.

Where separate physical instances need to be scaled 45X at a time, there is no real equivalent without building custom (or otherwise) infrastructure. We see numerous clustering opportunities for Moonshot, and look forward to new cartridge modules. The software-defined system moniker that HP applies to Moonshot is apt, but the software needed to truly define Moonshot is still elusive - and what's there currently requires immediate security bolt-down.

As an array, and possible element of a cluster, it's almost revolutionary in terms of bucking the main stream of 1U-defined computing. Moonshot's in need of some additional simplicity, lacquer, and manageability — but once overcome, it's a key and highly-efficient puzzle piece in NOCs of the future.

How We Tested
We installed the Moonshot chassis in a separate cabinet in our NOC at Expedient/nFrame in Indianapolis -— it requires a long chassis and our rack cabinet won't quite accommodate it with the back door still on; just slightly too long. In turn, we connected the described serial cable and instructed the chassis to wake up in various ways. We later connected the Moonshot Gigabit Ethernet ports to a switch, and began to program the configuration. We then obtained and connected two Extreme Networks switches to two other Extreme Networks switches in our cabinet, using SFP+ and fiber cables to allow cross-bar connectivity among the Moonshot ports and our internal network.

We configured a master node running CentOS 6.4, and developed an internal network for Moonshot cartridges, allowing them to boot by PxE configuration. DHCP, TFTP, and images, ready, we configured the remaining 44 cartridges with the same version of CentOS and proceeded to PxE boot the remaining cartridges. We used Puppet Enterprises puppet communications among the cartridges for status and state observation, then proceeded to test loop-back output of the cartridges.  

We equalized running daemons in each test to match a minimum needed to run the test and these were the same among the systems.

Notes: We strongly recommend HP's Cluster Management Utility for purchasers of Moonshot; although this product isn't reviewed here, it makes Moonshot more livable.


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