Enlarge / A wafer of HP's memristors, which were meant to be part of The Machine, but they've been rather difficult to commercialise. This is one of my favourite die shots.
HPE, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, has finally revealed a working prototype of The Machine, a research project first announced in 2014 that hoped to "reinvent the fundamental architecture of computing." The achievement is bittersweet, though, as it seems that HPE no longer plans to commercialise The Machine as a complete solution—instead, bits and pieces of the project will filter down into other commercial HPE servers and technologies.
HPE unveiled the prototype at an event in London on Monday. The Machine wasn't actually powered up in London; rather, it's located in a lab in Fort Collins, Colorado. There was a single node of the prototype on display in London, though. The chassis is very deep (about a foot deeper than a usual server rack) and thin, with an SoC on one end, RAM in the middle, and then oodles (2-4 terabytes) of persistent memory taking up the rest of the case.
The SoC side of The Machine node. You can just about see the local memory on the right edge of the picture. The two connectors in the bottom left are for an optical interconnect to other nodes.
Persistent memory isn't the only exciting bit, though: the SoC is attached to the persistent memory via a silicon photonics fabric. Presumably those ribbons that connect to the SoC and run along the edge of the chassis are fibre-optic cabling. HPE says that the SoC can also use the persistent memory in other nodes, again via a silicon photonics fabric, resulting in hundreds or thousands of terabytes of total accessible memory.