The Future Of Computing – HPE’s Machine

Ok, I admit this is a little indulgent, but stick with me for a while.

Consider how technology has revolutionised life. How it has changed your life recently. I’ll wager you didn’t video conference family overseas from your phone until recently. That you rarely researched information about a purchase before going to the shops. That you only photographed special moments, holidays, birthdays, even with a digital camera, rather than your breakfast.

Now consider how this scales when we add sensors and actuators to everything with the Internet of Things.

Again, consider the amount of compute power, storage capacity, and network bandwidth you need for this amount of growth.

Even taking Moore’s Law into account, demand will massively outstrip supply. We simply do not have the processing power, let alone the data centre capacity and electricity to meet the exploding needs of data. Especially with IoT.

Computer Re-Architecture

If you were to reinvent computers today, with the technologies that are available, would you happen upon the same architecture?

HPE’s answer to that is, ‘No.’ The outcome of that answer is a research project called The Machine. Quite literally a rearchitecture of a 50 year old paradigm that drives all computing we know today.

The Machine In Summary

In short, the idea is to replace the expensive, quick, but volatile DRAM, and cheap, slow, but persistent Storage, with Non-Volatile Memory, or NVM.

Ions

HPE is working on a new form of NVM called the “memristor” that uses ions, rather than electrons, to store data.

Once you have massive amounts of cheap, energy efficient, and persistent but quick memory, you can dispense with 80% of code today. The code that deals with the ‘volatility hierarchy.’ Essentially swapping data between layers of memory and storage.

Now we can make a computer that is ‘memory centric’ rather than ‘processor centric.’ In fact you could theoretically have limitless memory, and allow any number of processors to act on the data in this byte addressable fabric.

Photons

Finally, to shift the data between the processers and NVM, we use optical fibre rather than copper wire. Photons rather than electrons. This massively increases bandwidth, and dramatically decreases energy requirements.

Happy to Talk

I’ve been working with the Machine Team at HPE Labs for well over a year now, and would be happy to deliver a presentation to your organisation if you’re interested in the future of computing.