"Not every single one of those workloads needs an x86 processor," Potter said.
For example, Texas Instruments' Keystone multicore chip, which has four ARM Cortex-A15 processor cores and eight digital signal processors (DSPs), may be better at processing voice, which makes it useful for certain telecommunications applications, Potter said. There is also an interest in Moonshot running TI's chips in analyzing seismic data, Potter said.
The commercial launch of Moonshot will be a breakthrough for ARM, which designs and licenses microprocessors, but has no presence in the server market yet. ARM's processors are found in most smartphones and tablets, but the processor designer is looking to make its way upstream into the high-margin server market. ARM faces the challenge of unseating Intel, which dominates servers and is now aggressively pushing its low-power Atom server processor line.
HP will upgrade Moonshot to Intel's latest server chip code-named Avoton, which will ship later this year and succeed the Atom S1200. The new Atom chip is faster and more power efficient, thanks to a new microarchitecture. The chip is also made using Intel's latest 22-nanometer manufacturing process.
ARM has known weaknesses such as 32-bit and limited software support, but HP sees promise in the processor in certain applications. ARM has already announced a 64-bit architecture called ARMv8, which will be used in chips that begin shipping next year.
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