Dell Exec Trash-Talks HP's Revolutionary New Computer, Calling It 'Laughable'

HP The Machine CPUHP/Screen captureHP CTO Martin Fink

It didn’t take long for HP’s rivals to start dissing HP’s plans to build a brand-new type of computer that uses a new kind of memory and involves building brand new operating systems based on Linux and Android.

An exec at Dell, HP’s competitor, called HP’s plans “laughable” at a press conference.

The computer, known by the code-name “The Machine” is still in the R&D stage at HP Labs and won’t be a commercial product for a couple of years.

If it succeeds, HP says it could do the work of a whole data center on a machine the size of a refrigerator, drinking far less power as a result. Building energy-efficient computers to run the world’s insatiable appetite for apps is the holy grail for hardware makers these days.

“The Machine” will use a new kind of memory that HP has pioneered called “memristors.” These are like a combo of high-density hard drives and flash memory. They can hold a lot of data and work quickly but won’t lose info when the power is cut, CTO Martin Fink said when he showed off “The Machine” at HP’s customer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

But John Swainson, head of Dell’s software business, doesn’t believe a new operating system can lead to a new kind of computer. He called HP’s plans “laughable on the face of it.”

Plus, Dell’s head of R&D, Jai Menon also said at that press conference that “memristors” could face competition from a new kind of memory being developed by IBM called “phase-change memory.” This type of memory will be in the market “sooner than what HP is banking on,” Menon said.

Dell is actually new to the R&D business, having just launched its research lab in mid 2013 (compared to HP Labs, which began in 1966, founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard).

Menon, however, hails from IBM’s famous R&D labs, where he spent most of his career before Dell hired him away.

Dell’s scepticism is to be expected. HP’s new computer is ambitious and might not succeed for any number of reasons: cost, performance, number of apps available for it, competing technologies. But the strong words also mean that big hardware makers like IBM and Dell are watching HP closely and working on new computers of their own.

In the meantime, an HP employee tells Business Insider that the whole company is really proud of HP Labs. Win or lose, they like that the company is sharing its plans.

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