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Hardware Today: HPC Server Snapshot Page 2

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Jan 10, 2005


NEC and Neck

NEC's presence in HPC was most widely publicized with the 35 T/Flop Earth Simulator. This machine held the No. 1 slot on the Top500 list before being dethroned, first by NASA/SGI/Intel's Columbia system at 60 GFlOPS and then by an IBM POWER5-based cluster that does 70-80GFlops. NEC also has a significant HPC presence among Fortune 1000 enterprises, research institutions, and universities, according to Larry Sheffield, senior vice president of NEC's Solutions Platform Group.

"In June of 2004, NEC became the first major enterprise hardware manufacturer to offer an Itanium 2 processor-based blade with 64-bit computing power and four-times InfiniBand capabilities," said Sheffield.

NEC's primary product in this market is the Express5800/1020Ba blade server. It has dual Intel Itanium 2 processors, nine blades per chassis, and runs Red Hat Enterprise Linux. An Infiniband PCI-X Adapter is an option: It has a 10 Gb per second blade interconnect with support for up to eight logical interfaces to Gigabit Ethernet or Fiber Channel. Sheffield says the base price of the Express5800/1020Ba is $79,000. That includes the chassis and nine 2-way blades. Each blade has 2 GB of memory, 136 GB of hard drive storage, and redundant power. Installation, software, and maintenance are priced separately.

What about the future? NEC wasn't giving much away. It did, however, comment on its continuing support for the Linux platform. 'In 2005, look for NEC to become more involved with Linux clusters," said Sheffield.

No Bull

Like HP and NEC, Bull has also charged headlong into the Itanium 2 camp. Its NovaScale servers now run Itanium 2 processors, with a Level 3 cache up to 9 MB, as well as the low voltage version of Itanium 2 processors. The company hopes this will reinforce the Bull NovaScale presence in the scientific, technical, and business market segments. These go from 2-way up to 32-way systems and run mainly Windows and various Linux flavors.

The DAM (Military Application Department) of the CEA (the French Nuclear Power Agency) selected NovaScale as its platform for a 60 TFlop system. This supercomputer, named Tera10, will increase CEA Military Applications Department's present supercomputing power by a factor of 10. It is to be used for its Simulation Program, which guarantees the continuation of the French nuclear deterrent, following the cessation of nuclear testing.

Tera10 will integrate 544 NovaScale 6160 computing nodes, each of which will include eight Intel Montecito dual-core processors. The supercomputer will have 8,704 processors with 27 TB of core memory, and 54 NovaScale I/O servers will manage 1 PB of disk space with a sustained throughput of 100 GB/s. This machine will be fully deployed before the end of 2005.

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