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Linux supercomputing arrives for the masses

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Silicon Graphics (SGI) today claimed that it could bring Linux-based supercomputing to the masses with the launch of its cheapest ever scalable rack-mounted servers and storage systems.

The 1U SGI Altix 330 rack-mount Linux server has a quoted US entry price of under $7,000. It is accompanied by SGI's InfiniteStorage S330 storage array that is "priced for a workgroup" with an entry point of $12,599, less than half the price of previous SGI storage offerings.

"SGI systems has traditionally sold into higher-end segments of the technical server markets, and with what many users view as a price premium for additional capabilities," said Earl Joseph, vice president of technical computer systems at IDC.

"By moving a version of its supercomputer-class technology into systems that fall squarely in the mid-range workgroup category, SGI is demonstrating that differentiation is not only possible in the commodity space, but can be intriguing to users who need far more than a low-cost solution."

The SGI Altix 330 features the same high-bandwidth SGI NUMAflex shared memory architecture, its fast SGI NUMAlink interconnect (6.4Gbps bi-directional) and high-availability data management capabilities as the Altix systems that power SGI's high end supercomputers.

The "pizza box" form factor allows users to stack up to 17 servers into a standard 17U rack and up to 39 servers into a standard 39U rack.

Running either Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Server or Red Hat Enterprise Linux implementations, the 330 systems can be equipped with one or two Intel Itanium 2 processors running at 1.3GHz to 1.6GHz, on-chip cache ranging from 3MB to 6MB, and up to 16GB of system memory.

The Altix 330 has the capability of scaling up to 16 processors with NUMAlink and up to 128GB of memory.

The S330 is designed to offer data transfer rates of up to 485Mbps for bandwidth-intensive applications such as video streaming and seismic processing, and to deliver efficient input/output performance for transactional applications such as databases and online transactions processing.

The array allows firms to store and manage from 2.8TB to more than 16TB of data in direct attached storage, network attached storage, or storage area network configurations.

"With so many customers moving to Linux and away from systems based on proprietary processor architectures, the time is right for SGI to broaden its market for Altix systems and InfiniteStorage solutions," said Warren Pratt, senior vice president at SGI.

"These solutions, packaged for today's cost-conscious customers, deliver the kind of performance that many customers felt was previously out of their reach. "


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