Silicon Graphics Inc has quadrupled the density of its Origin MIPS-based server line by placing 128 processors in a single rack with its new Origin 3900 server, and has also shed some more light on its forthcoming 64-way Intel Corp Itanium 2 server line.
The new Origin 3900 is being demonstrated later this month at the Supercomputing 2002 trade show in Baltimore, Maryland and features significant improvements in terms of server density, according to the Mountain View, California-based company's president and COO, Warren Pratt.
Pratt told ComputerWire that by enabling 128 processors in a single rack, the company had achieved advances in terms of data center space and environmental considerations, but is also working on the principle that "he who can build the densest computer system can also build the fastest computer system." By reducing the distance between processing components, SGI has been able to reduce interconnect latency and improve efficiency.
The Origin 3900 has a base configuration of four processors and 4GB of memory and scales to 512 processors and 1TB of memory in a single system image with interconnected racks. The list price of a 128-way, 64GB machine is $2.94m, if you happen to have that sort of money handy. One company that has is Marathon Oil, which is an early adopter for the Origin 3900. The company will be using a 128-way server with 64GB of memory for seismic imaging.
Pratt also discussed SGI's forthcoming 64-bit Linux server due for release early next year. The as-yet-unnamed server is a major breakthrough for Linux as it is the first time that a server vendor has managed to scale a single image of the operating system to 64 processors. Pratt said the scalability had been achieved through a combination of SGI's Numaflex cache coherent non-uniform memory architecture, as well as building APIs for use alongside a standard Linux distribution.
"The scaling capability that we can offer provides a significant advantage for many applications in the high performance computing space," he said. "Customers have problems that cannot be solved with small-node systems. We, over time, have learned how to implement the cache-coherent Numa architecture."
The new Itanium 2-based server will be targeted at the high-performance computing market, which is quickly becoming a proof-point for Linux's enterprise-level capabilities. Despite tinkering with Windows-based servers in the past, Pratt maintains that SGI's focus in this space is Linux. "In the market areas that we serve, we don't see Microsoft playing at all," he said.