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Forget the wheel, HP’s reinventing the computer

14 Jun 14

'The Machine’ - sounds like the title of yet another gangster Guy Ritchie movie.

But no, in attempting to transform both hardware and software infrastructure, HP has revealed its plans to completely reinvent the computer.

Behind closed doors, HP CTO Martin Fink says HP Labs has been developing the “fundamental components of a solution that will have the horsepower to take in all of the future’s information and process it in new way.”

“Here at HP we are constantly working to introduce innovative products and services, and then continuously working to improve them to ensure that our technologies are keeping up with our customers’ changing needs,” Fink adds.

“But what happens when we realise that simply scaling the existing technologies won’t be enough to keep pace with progress?

“We’re seeing our customers—and the industry as a whole—dealing with a massive onslaught of data.

“This huge and complex amount of data is growing at an exponential rate. We’re all struggling to keep pace today.

“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 analyse it. A step change in computing technology is required.”

Introducing The Machine. But why call it... The Machine?

Careful not to call it a server, workstation, PC, device or phone, because it actually encompasses all of those things, HP were waiting for Marketing to come up with a cool code name for the project.

They didn’t, the team started calling it The Machine—and the name stuck.

“Developing The Machine not only means building the hardware,” Fink claims.

“But we’re also investing in developing the software that will support it—the data algorithms, the operating systems, the security platform and the tools required to manage millions of compute nodes from servers and data centres to the smart sensors that will make up the internet of things.”

Here are a few of challenges that The Machine is being built to address:

• Data governance and security issues are at top of mind—not only for organisations, but also for the average individual.

Recent events have made it clear that organisations can’t afford to take a passive or reactive approach to the way that they protect their information.

The Machine will make possible the secure storage, aggregation and transmission of never-before-imagined amounts of data.

• Most organisations are only able to use big data analyses to understand what is happening in hindsight—existing tools are being used to process things that have already happened.

The Machine is designed to enable truly real-time insight. This will help organisations transition from having purely reactive insight to developing the foresight that lets them predict what is going to happen.

• The notion of simply continuing to expand the current data centre model isn’t a feasible one. Today, Big Data means bringing all the data into one place. Tomorrow, some of data will be too big and too expensive to move.

Tomorrow’s analytics will work where the data is created, transforming data locally into intelligence which is then sent to a centralised learning engine powered by The Machine.

"The Machine not only increases performance, it will also greatly reduce the amount of energy that is needed to achieve those speeds," Fink adds.