Hardware Today: SGI Server Snapshot

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Oct 24, 2005


Although some vendors thrive on volume sales of commodity servers, SGI of Mountain View, Calif. has long been focused on meeting the unique needs of high-end users. The strategy has been largely successful. In fiscal year 2005, the vendor sold $730 million worth of goods and services, which is about 5 percent of the total market for technical and creative computer systems, according to IDC.

Despite a smattering of entry-level offerings, SGI remains focused on meeting the needs of high-end users. Nowhere is this more clear than in its growing Altix line.

"Whether it's sharing images to aid in brain surgery, finding oil more efficiently, studying global climate, providing technologies for homeland security and defense, or enabling the transition from analog to digital broadcasting," says Bill Mannel, director of product marketing and management for SGI's Server and Platform Group, "SGI is dedicated to addressing the next class of challenges for scientific, engineering, and creative users.”

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SGI's work in the scientific arena earned it the No. 3 spot on the June 2005 Top 500 list. The 10,256-processor Altix supercomputer was built to help NASA study the formation of the galaxy. Four other scientific systems from SGI also placed in the Top 50. But a focus on the high end has not been at the expense of the low end. In July, SGI lowered the price thresholds for its entry-level servers with two new offerings. The Altix 330 Server starts below $7,000, and the InfiniteStorage S330 storage array is priced from $12,599.

"Along with growing popularity for high-density, commoditization has made cost a dominant selection factor when choosing low- to midrange-server and storage solutions," Mannel continues. "With its expanded portfolio, SGI has demonstrated that differentiation is not only possible in the commodity space, but it can be also intriguing to users who need far more than a low-cost solution."

The table below provides an overview of SGI's Altix line.


SGI Altix Servers

Server Line
Description
Processors
Processor Range
Supported Operating Systems
Pricing
Altix 3700 Bx2 For technical users seeking high performance with open-source computing, the 3700 combines the cost-effectiveness of clusters with the scalability and capabilities of a supercomputer. Intel Itanium 1.5 GHz, 4MB cache
1.6 GHz, 6MB cache
1.6 GHz, 9MB cache
SGI Advanced Linux Environment, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (LES), and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Starting around $100,000
Altix 1350 Cluster A full-featured integrated cluster that can support a demanding application mix in a multiuser environment Intel Itanium 1.6 GHz, 9MB cache
1.6 GHz, 6MB cache
1.5 GHz, 4MB cache
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with Service Pack 1, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with SGI ProPack 4, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Server 4 Pricing varies by configuration
Altix 350 A scaled down (in both power and price) version of the Altix 3700, available in 1- to 32-processor configurations, delivers scalable 64-bit Linux to midrange customers and developers Intel Itanium 1.6 GHz, 9MB cache
1.6 GHz, 6MB cache
1.5 GHz, 4MB cache
SGI Advanced Linux Environment, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with Service Pack 1, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with SGI ProPack 4, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Server 4 Starts at less than $16,000
Altix 330 An entry-level midrange server with a 1U form factor Intel Itanium 1.6 GHz, 6 MB cache
1.3 GHz, 3 MB cache
1.5 GHz, 4 MB cache
SGI Advanced Linux Environment, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with Service Pack 1, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with SGI ProPack 4, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Server 4 Starts at a little over $7,000
Altix 1330 Factory-integrated cluster offers a large-node cluster option to complement the Altix line. Intel Itanium 1.6 GHz, 6 MB cache
1.3 GHz, 3 MB cache
1.5 GHz, 4 MB cache
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with Service Pack 1, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with SGI ProPack 4, and hRed Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Server 4 Pricing varies by configuration

>> Those Intel-igent RASC-les

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