Dell executive says HP's new Machine architecture is 'laughable'

John Swainson says HP just wants 'bragging rights'

Hewlett-Packard's attempt to come up with a new architecture for computers is "laughable" and would make trillions of dollars in software investment obsolete, a top Dell executive said Thursday.

HP revealed a day earlier that it's developing a new computer design, dubbed The Machine, that will be able to handle vast quantities of data using far less electricity. It employs silicon photonics and a new, hyper-dense memory type called memristors, and will require HP to develop a new OS.

"The notion that you can reach some magical state by rearchitecting an OS is laughable on the face of it," John Swainson, head of Dell's software business, told reporters in San Francisco Thursday when asked to comment on the work.

The basic elements of computing, like processor and memory, are likely to be reconfigured in some way, but not so radically that existing software won't run, he said. "I don't know many people who think that's a really good idea."

Jai Menon, head of Dell Research, said another advanced memory type -- phase-change memory -- is going to be here "sooner than what HP is banking on."

Those are strong words from a company that isn't exactly known for pushing the boundaries of computing, having built its business mainly on cheap servers and PCs.

Dell's long-term research looks out "two years and beyond," Menon said earlier in the day -- not far enough that it's likely to hustle a new memory technology to market itself.

That didn't stop Menon from claiming there are "at least two other types of memory technology better than what HP is banking on."

He named phase-change memory as one of them -- another technology HP has worked on in its labs.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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