Whitman Previews “New Architecture” from HP Labs

HP CEO Meg Whitman promotes HP Labs efforts

HP CEO Meg Whitman

HP’s Discover event in Barcelona this week has focused heavily on its “new style of IT” mantra, which focuses on cloud computing, integrated data center offerings, and commercial PCs that try to bring the cool factor. But HP CEO Meg Whitman’s keynote Tuesday at the event offered a brief preview of where HP’s next “new style of IT” may be headed.

Taking a break from promoting the current lineup of HP Enterprise Group products, Whitman discussed a handful of technology areas where the company’s HP Lab is working on technologies the company feels will help shape technology in the future.

Up first, Moonshot cartridge servers are the only one of the innovations currently in-market today, but Whitman suggested HP has just tapped the surface of the high-density, low-power modular servers, saying that “no other company is taking on the data center the way were are.”

From there, Whitman moved into technologies that have not yet seen the light of the day, a high-performance, low-cost non-volatile memory technology called memristors, and its Photonics technology, which speed data transmission within an infrastructure by using fiber optics.

“The fundamental architecture of computing hasn’t changed very much in 60 years,” Whitman told attendees. “As the new style of IT takes hold, we are quickly reaching the limits of the architecture. We need a computing architecture for the Big Data age. What’s coming next is a new architecture.”

With Photonics, HP aims to solve the inefficiencies of getting data out of storage, into memory, and back to storage again, and Whitman said HP has a roadmap for 6 TB per second transfer rates using the technology. And using memristors, HP says it should be able to store 100 TB on a drive by 2018.

“We’ll stay ahead of demand by changing the game” with the technologies, Whitman asserted.

Although a brief sojourn in a lengthy presentation about the current HP lineup, Whitman’s stroll through its future lineup underscores the CEO’s message that HP is, once again, focused on innovation, a message that has been often repeated here at Discover, particularly around its debuting Converged System lineup. It’s also a return to the limelight for the efforts of HP Labs. For a long time, the research arm was one of the company’s crown jewels, and was frequently held up as a core part of “the HP way.” Although a sidebar to Whitman’s overall message, putting the CEO’s spotlight on HP Labs suggests the vendor is going to get more public about the group’s efforts.

It also comes at a time when Whitman has suggested chipmaker Intel is as much a competitor as a partner. That divide would no doubt be furthered by HP delving into enterprise flash storage with memristors, and server and system architecture with Photonics.

Rounding out Whitman’s look at the company’s future offerings, Whitman offered a brief preview of its thinking around 3D printing. Noting that “sometimes it’s hard to separate the hype from the reality” of the technology, she said that “HP Labs is on the case, looking to overcome the two biggest obstacles to 3D printing today: speed and quality.”

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