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Displaying articles for: February 2011

HP nanotechnology research looks to sustain HP server market leadership for the long run

(Update: read the 2/28/11 The New York Times story "Remapping Computer Circuitry to Avert Impending Bottlenecks" for more on this subject)

 

“What will future computer systems look like?” asks HP Labs distinguished technologist Parthasarathy Ranganathan in a cover story for Computer magazine, the flagship publication of the IEEE Computer Society.

 

In his article [PDF], Ranganathan suggests computer science is at what he calls an ‘inflection point,’ one that will provoke a radical rethink of traditional computer system design. 

 

This new generation of systems will likely be built around nanostores, argues Ranganathan.  Nanostores are non-volatile memory chips that also act as processors – and they promise to dramatically change the speed and volume at which computer systems can work. 

 

Colleagues of Ranganathan in HP’s Intelligent Infrastructure Lab  are already developing such memory chips, having in the last several years made significant advances in memristor-based technology.  Memristors, a circuit building block with origins dating to the 1970s, are resistors with memory and represent the fourth basic circuit element in electrical engineering.  Because they can both store information and act as processors, they have the potential to be the building blocks from which nanostores can be built.

 

It won’t be too long, HP researchers believe, before computer engineers like Ranganthan will be able to use such memristor-based nanostores in their new system designs.

 

A new direction for the server market

HP sees its memristor research as key to maintaining the company’s lead in the global server market, says Marc Hamilton, VP of high performance computing for HP’s Industry Standard Servers and Software group. 

 

While the company continued to dominate the competition in 2010 with an industry-leading 31.4% share of worldwide revenue (source: Gartner estimate), Hamilton believes that changes in customer demand will challenge even the most successful players in today’s market.

 

He notes, for example, that many organizations currently relying on x86 industry standard servers are starting to want ‘hyperscale’ or high performance computing (HPC) systems.  These are already being used to run cloud services, in large-scale online social, retail and financial operations and in systems attached to vast arrays of sensors distributed around the world.  

 

Those uses are only going to increase, believes Hamilton. “Consumer goods companies are now using the hyperscale computational fluid dynamics to design their packaging,” he explains.  “And you’re starting to see high performance computers move out of the research lab and into clinical use for genome sequencing.  In fact, almost every large company today is starting to use high performance computing technology.” 

 

But even newer GPGPU-based systems, like one HP built recently for Tokyo Tech, are constrained by the fundamentals of traditional computing architecture.  “If you just use a traditional programming model,” says Hamilton, “they put a tremendous burden on the network and storage interface. People are starting to look at latency-hiding algorithms just to use these systems effectively.”

 

From the ground up: memristors and rethinking the computer

Hamilton and HP colleagues like Ranganathan argue that, to compete in the coming age of exascale computing, technology companies need to reconsider the fundamental assumptions behind traditional computer architecture.  And they believe they’ve found the means to do that with the memristor.

 

HP Labs recently announced a plan to begin manufacturing memristor-based solid state memory chips, an innovation its researchers predict will then be followed by chips able to both store and do computations in one place.

 

Memristor Milestones

“The potential here is to transform computing through shifting the balance of compute, storage and networking,” Ranganathan explains.

 

When stacked together, memristors would, in effect, turn into nanostores that both hold information and do computation on that information.  They could also be packed together into ‘microblades.’

 

“Potentially,” says Ranganathan, “that could let you shrink a whole rack of storage onto a single blade. And then you could shrink a whole data center into a couple of racks of memristor-based nanostores.”

 

A familiar model – for once

There are plenty of thorny technical issues to be resolved before that can happen, of course.  A major question is how lightning-fast memory/processing units would work in a data network, a challenge that HP Labs research is already addressing.

 

Crucially, though, the fundamental concept of using nanostores and microblades is a familiar one, says ISS’s Hamilton.  “It’s similar to what’s being used in big web data centers already,” he explains.  “Only a system like Hadoop, which Google uses, is entirely software based.  This works in much the same way, only much faster.”

 

That’s unusual.  Typically, new compute models require people to think about software differently – and that slows the model’s adoption.  “The computer world has been struggling for the last five years to use the multi-core x86 processor,” notes Hamilton.  “Now they are adapting to the use of GPGPU technology.  But if you look at both the nanostore in a web environment and the microblade in a dataflow model – neither requires you to rearchitect how you have been doing things.  That provides for a very interesting capability to accelerate performance without causing massive change to the software.”

 

The generation after next

HP’s next-generation servers won’t feature memristors – which aren’t due to appear in the first flash-type memory chips for several years.

 

But memristor-enhanced servers are currently on the HP road map, says Hamilton.

 

“Right now we’re doing a lot of conceptual design and looking at how this all fits into our overall architecture,” he explains.  “And what we’re seeing is that this new generation of servers is going to enable us to massively extend our successful Converged Infrastructure strategy by enabling a new kind of holistic control of storage, compute and networking.”

HP reports first quarter 2011 results

HP today announced financial results for its first fiscal quarter. Net revenue of $32.3 billion was up 4% from the prior-year period.

 

Highlights:

- First quarter GAAP diluted earnings per share are up 26% year over year with non-GAAP diluted earnings per share up 27% and cash flow from operations up 28%

- First quarter gross margins are up 1.5 percentage points year over year to 24.4%

- There was continued strength in commercial hardware, with Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking revenue up 22% year over year with growth in commercial PC Clients and Printers of 11% and 13%, respectively

- HP is raising full year GAAP diluted earnings per share outlook to $4.46 to $4.54 and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share outlook to $5.20 to $5.28.

 

Read the full press release and financials by clicking here.

 

Quote from CEO Leo Apotheker

“I’m pleased with our EPS and margin expansion during the quarter. Going forward, we have the opportunity to further capitalize on our customers’ demands for higher value-added solutions.  HP has a powerful portfolio, including exciting, recently announced cloud and connectivity offerings. We are focused on leveraging these strengths to extend our leadership and accelerate growth.”


Updates

We will update this post throughout the day with transcripts, presentations, and quotes relating to HP’s first quarter earnings report.  Visit HP Investor Relations for more information or follow @hpnews on Twitter and Stocktwits.

 

Request-HPQ 1Q11 Earnings Final


 

Use of non-GAAP financial information

To supplement HP’s consolidated condensed financial statements presented on a GAAP basis, HP provides non-GAAP operating profit, non-GAAP operating margin, non-GAAP net earnings, non-GAAP diluted earnings per share and gross cash. HP also provides forecasts of non-GAAP diluted earnings per share. A reconciliation of the adjustments to GAAP results for this quarter and prior periods is included in the tables below. In addition, an explanation of the ways in which HP management uses these non-GAAP measures to evaluate its business, the substance behind HP management’s decision to use these non-GAAP measures, the material limitations associated with the use of these non-GAAP measures, the manner in which HP management compensates for those limitations, and the substantive reasons why HP management believes that these non-GAAP measures provide useful information to investors is included under “Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” after the tables below. This additional non-GAAP financial information is not meant to be considered in isolation or as a substitute for operating profit, operating margin, net earnings, diluted earnings per share, or cash and cash equivalents prepared in accordance with GAAP.

 

Forward-looking statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. If the risks or uncertainties ever materialize or the assumptions prove incorrect, the results of HP may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and assumptions. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements, including but not limited to any projections of revenue, margins, expenses, earnings, tax provisions, cash flows, benefit obligations, share repurchases, currency exchange rates, the impact of acquisitions or other financial items; any statements of the plans, strategies and objectives of management for future operations, including the execution of cost reduction programs and restructuring plans; any statements concerning the expected development, performance or market share relating to products or services; any statements regarding current or future macroeconomic trends or events and the impact of those trends and events on HP and its financial performance; any statements regarding pending investigations, claims or disputes; any statements of expectation or belief; and any statements of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. Risks, uncertainties and assumptions include the impact of macroeconomic and geopolitical trends and events; the competitive pressures faced by HP’s businesses; the development and transition of new products and services and the enhancement of existing products and services to meet customer needs and respond to emerging technological trends; the execution and performance of contracts by HP and its suppliers, customers and partners; the protection of HP’s intellectual property assets, including intellectual property licensed from third parties; integration and other risks associated with business combination and investment transactions; the hiring and retention of key employees; assumptions related to pension and other post-retirement costs; expectations and assumptions relating to the execution and timing of cost reduction programs and restructuring plans; the resolution of pending investigations, claims and disputes; and other risks that are described in HP’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2010 and HP’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As in prior periods, the financial information set forth in this release, including tax-related items, reflects estimates based on information available at this time. While HP believes these estimates to be meaningful, these amounts could differ materially from actual reported amounts in HP’s Form 10-Q for the quarter ended January 31, 2011. In particular, determining HP’s actual tax balances and provisions as of January 31, 2011 requires extensive internal and external review of tax data (including consolidating and reviewing the tax provisions of numerous domestic and foreign entities), which is being completed in the ordinary course of preparing HP’s Form 10-Q. HP assumes no obligation and does not intend to update these forward-looking statements.

Labels: Finance

HP cloud services and Infinite Frameworks power Singapore’s ‘Studio of the Future’

Technology has played a vital role throughout the development of the media and entertainment industry, from the special effects created by legends Georges Méliès and Oscar Rejlander to modern day computer generated imagery seen in all major blockbusters.

 

Building on HP’s heritage in digital media innovation and leading entertainment partnerships, HP Singapore has announced a collaboration with Infinite Frameworks (IFW), to offer the tenants of the recently launched Infinite Studios cutting-edge digital media technologies via the cloud.

 

Dubbed the ‘Studio of the Future’, Infinite Studios at One North, Mediapolis Singapore will be a 260,000 square foot facility, comprising approximately 45,000 sq feet of Singapore’s first soundstage facilities and production offices and another 215,000 sq feet for inter-related media companies and lifestyle services.

 

Creating animations and effects with the cloud

Rendering digital media is one of the most computing-intensive processes in the IT business (in fact, the 2010 DreamWorks production “How To Train Your Dragon” kept nearly 10,000 computing cores busy almost 100% of the time for 28 weeks – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

 

With the HP-IFW Digital Media Cloud, tenants of Infinite Studios will be able to buy and use digital media and ICT services such as remote computing, rendering, storage and collaboration services on a pay-per-use basis. 

 

CameramenIn addition, HP and IFW will work with major broadcasters and media companies to identify services specific to the digital media industry (like 3D digital content workflow, flexible storage services, and digital asset management) and offer them in phases to the tenants. The first set of cloud services is targeted for roll-out when Infinite Studios is completed in August 2012.

 

This ground-breaking project was born out of HP’s Labs facility in Singapore, which opened its doors only a year ago.  Cloud computing is at the heart of the research undertaken by HP’s Singapore Labs facility and today’s collaboration with Infinite Studios is a first practical glimpse of the results of this research only a year on.

 

For more on HP’s digital media innovation and leading entertainment partnerships

HP Technology Powers DreamWorks Animation’s 3-D Film “How to Train Your Dragon”

DreamWorks Animation Looks to HP for its Next-Generation Networking Infrastructure

HP Helps Warner Bros. Entertainment Move Post-production to 4K Digital with Advanced Media Storage Technology

 

 

Image credit: Mike Babcock

HP Q1 earnings quick reference guide for Tuesday, February 22, 2011

HP (NYSE: HPQ) will present its first quarter earnings today, February 22, 2011, after the market closes.  We will post links to the news release, financials, slide presentations, and other information as it becomes available here at Data Central and on Twitter/Stocktwits at @hpnews.

 

You’ll also be able to follow the news on our investor relations website, the HP.com newsroomBusiness Wire, and Facebook.

 

Related resources:

Webcast of 1Q11 analyst relations call, 2pm PT, Tuesday, February 22.

All HPQ SEC filings

More upcoming investor meetings (including webcasts)

HPQ 2010 Annual Report (including a "Letter to Stockholders" from CEO Leo Apotheker)

 

Forward-looking statements

Comments made during today's earnings report may contain forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Please refer to HP's SEC reports for discussion of those risks.

Labels: Finance

HP Labs Releases 2010 Annual Research Report

Paper-like, flexible video displays.  Immersive, real-time 3-D experiences.  Zero-energy, sustainable data centers.  Low-power, high-speed nonvolatile memory.

 

What do these things have in common?  They’re all projects being developed by talented teams of researchers at HP Labs.

 

HP Labs is comprised of distinguished scientists, award-winning technologists and passionate researchers who are driven to redefine what it means to be innovative.  The newly-released HP Labs 2010 Annual Research Report showcases the organization’s commitment to “purposeful innovation,” finding solutions to the most complex challenges facing HP’s customers and society, and, as a result, creating a strong link between Labs research and HP’s business goals.

 

The report highlights the best of more than 120 technologies that HP Labs transferred to HP businesses during the 2010 fiscal year, whether it’s delivering a cloud-based analytics solution to help government agencies detect sophisticated cyber attacks, or creating seismic data solutions using wireless sensor networks for more efficient land-based oil and gas exploration.

 

You can read about advancements in these areas and many more in the report, which provides a comprehensive look at the projects and people that contributed to another fruitful year of R&D within HP’s esteemed research group.

 

Click here to download the full report.

 

HP Lab-in-Box: delivering IT-enabled education to rural India

Education in India faces enormous challenges.  Of the nation’s 200 million children aged between 6 and 14, for example, nearly two-thirds will fail to reach eighth grade.

 

Part of the problem lies in access to schools. Only 53% of Indian homes are close to a primary school of any kind – a reality that has India’s national government calling for more creative, sustainable and inclusive models of education.

 

In response to that call, HP India has created a prototype “Lab-in-Box” classroom that offers students in the country’s most remote locations access to classes taught by some of the nation’s finest teachers.  On Monday, February 14, HP CEO Leo Apotheker joined Kapil Sibal, India’s Honorable Minister of Human Resource Development and Communications and Information Technology, to announce the news.

 

A HP Lab-in-Box prototype outside the NCERT campus in New Delhi

(above: an HP Lab-in-Box prototype outside the NCERT campus in New Delhi)

 

Developed in collaboration with India’s National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the Lab is built directly into a standard shipping container which is easily transportable to areas with limited access to connectivity or poor infrastructure.

 

Equipped with wireless connectivity, 15 HP PCs, an HP multi-function printer, a generator, and built-in furniture, the Lab-in-Box solution addresses the power, space, infrastructure and equipment challenges faced by many Indian schools today.   

 

Inside view of HP Lab-In-Box

 

Textbooks are pre-loaded onto the PCs. Curricular materials and even tutorials can be delivered from distant centers of excellence.  And HP’s multi-seat computing solutions allow multiple students to use a single PC, reducing complexity and minimizing costs.

 

The prototype Lab-in-Box pictured above is now housed at NCERT’s New Delhi campus, ready to be demonstrated to schools.

 

In the long term, the HP Lab-in-Box model might impact more than just education.  For example, the containers can also be reconfigured for other social requirements, such as service centers for citizens and remote telemedicine outlets.

What’s on the Horizon in Education? The New Media Consortium and HP Team up to Answer That Question

Since 2005, the non-profit The New Media Consortium has been developing the Horizon Report, one of the foremost authorities on the technology trends that will enable new approaches to learning and teaching.

 

For the second year, HP is proud to support the 2011 Horizon Report as part of our broader Catalyst Initiative to drive new approaches in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. This year’s report found that collaborative, mobile and on-demand technology solutions are continuing to drastically change how the education process works – for the better. Specifically:

 

  • The continued proliferation of widespread internet access has made content more open and easily accessible to students worldwide
  • Cloud computing and mobile devices have driven an always-on mentality for students who wish to access their information where they want, when they want. This alters how educators approach the learning process all together.
  • Collaboration is as important as ever in education, with teams working more dynamically due to advances in technology

 

The Horizon Report also details a few 2011 Horizon Reporttechnologies to keep your eye on, with this year’s report including augmented reality and gesture-based computing, among others. Jim Vanides, HP’s program manager for the Catalyst Initiative, highlights his favorite picks from the Horizon Report on his blog, “Teaching, Learning, and Technology in Higher Education”.

 

As an extension of this annual report, HP is also pleased to support the Horizon Project Navigator, a dynamic social platform that allows users to dive deep into the work of the Horizon Project. More than just a portal, the Navigator also empowers users to contribute information and rate anything that exists in the dataset of the site. This is the kind of social and community-driven innovation that HP believes will help to drive widespread positive change in our world.

HP research shows mainstream media drive Twitter ‘trends’ to a surprising degree

Twitter

Who gets to determine the big topics of conversation on social media? And how do they do it? Looking to find out, HP researchers recently examined how popular subjects get to be listed among the top ‘trending’ topics on Twitter.  

 

“You might expect the most prolific tweeters or those with most followers would be most responsible for creating such trends,” says Bernardo Huberman,  HP Senior Fellow and director of HP Labs’ Social Computing Research Group.  But that turns out not to be the case.

 

In a new paper, Huberman and three fellow researchers demonstrate that “user activity and number of followers do not contribute strongly to trend creation and its propagation.”

 

Instead, says Huberman, “we found that mainstream media play a role in most trending topics and actually act as feeders of these trends.  Twitter users then seem to be acting more as filter and amplifier of traditional media in most cases.”

 

How trends start

The main determinant of whether an item trends – much more than who tweets about it or how often – was the specific subject of the tweet, the team found. That can be seen in the degree to which trending topics are the result of retweets – items passed from one individual’s network of followers to another’s.  31% of tweets of trending topics are retweets, their analysis showed.

 

The role of “traditional” media sources

The HP team collected data from Twitter’s own search API over a period of 40 days in the fall of 2010.  From the resulting sample of 16.32 million tweets, they identified 22 users who were the source of the most retweets when a topic was “trending.”  Of those 22, 72% were Twitter streams run by mainstream media outfits such as CNN, the New York Times, El Pais and the BBC.

 

Although popular, most of these sites have millions of followers fewer than highly-followed tweeters such as Ashton Kutcher, Barack Obama or Lady Gaga.

 

Similarly, the research showed that just having an active Twitter account was not a factor in creating a trend.

 

Predicting the ebb and flow of trends

Huberman and his colleagues also wanted to know why some trends last longer than others. Very few topics stay much more that 40 minutes at the top, they discovered, but those that do persist engage an especially diverse audience.  Indeed, says Huberman, “we showed that the distribution of long-time trends is predictable, as is as the total number of tweets and their growth over time.”

 

Crowdsourcing the public agenda

Even though mainstream media sources tend to be extremely well-represented within social media discussions, a significant percentage of trending topics do stem from non-mainstream sources, Huberman notes.  And that’s a change from the pre-internet era when social media consisted of little more than conversations held in person and over the phone.

 

However they originate, though, the fleeting nature of trending social media topics means that they’ve yet to show they can really influence the public agenda.  “In traditional media, being on the news for several days is enough to start a conversation about that topic,” explains Huberman. “In social media, a few hours might do as well, but we have no evidence yet that it is the case.”

 

Download the paper at Scribd.com here

 

Trends in Social Media: Persistence and Decay

 

Why HP researches social computing

Understanding how social media might be altering the nature of information transmission and social influence is a major goal of HP’s Social Computing research.  To that end, its Social Computing Research Group is creating novel tools to analyze the flow of “unstructured data” (such as social information) and developing new services that dynamically respond to the ways in which information is now being created and consumed online.

 

Other areas of focus for HP’s social computing research include harvesting the collective intelligence (i.e. the “wisdom of the crowd”) and designing incentives for accessing and allocating resources in the most efficient ways possible.

 

More HP social computing research

What makes a tweet influential? New HP Labs social media research may provide answers

 

Predicting the future with social media

 

The science of social: HP Labs research shows that “superusers” power the social web

 

Researchers at HP Labs measure 100 top Twitter influencers in U.S. Congress

 

Image credit: pdinnen

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