HP and "The Machine"

By Henry Newman

A few weeks ago HP announced a converged infrastructure solutions system with a new architecture and – what I think is equally interesting – a new operating system. 

I think the hardware architecture, though new in combination, is not new. The idea of silicon photonics is not new – Intel talked about them at their developer conference. Memristor has been discussed by HP for a long, long time and though we seemingly get a bit closer we never seem to get to production.

The new area that I am very glad is being discussed is the operating system. I have felt and written about the need for major changes in the operating system to deal with non-volatile memory.  The last thing that is needed is for users to use this memory similarly to what is done with flash and make an in-memory file system. What is needed is a complete re-think of the problem with the ability to allocate the non-volatile memory space from an application and maybe let the faster memory space be controlled by the hardware as it is today. 

The non-volatile memory space needs to be directly addressable from the CPU no differently than memory is today.  The one thing that is missing is resource management, which HP might or might not be dealing with.  This could include non-volatile memory as a resource that controls it, that decides what applications and users can use it, and what applications and users cannot use it today, tomorrow this minute, hour or second. 

If we are going to have hierarchies of performance within a system we are going to finally need to address resource management to control allocations of non-volatile, regular memory such as large pages, shared memory, CPU access and performance, network access and performance, I/O and storage access and performance, just to name a few.  As systems get more complex, we are going to need to readdress the whole issue of resource management, control and reporting, as has been done on the IBM mainframe MVS for the last 40 years.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on July 07, 2014