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Penguin's HPC Waddle

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Oct 16, 2009


Penguin Computing has dedicated itself to developing best practices for Linux-based systems, software and services. In particular, it has gravitated toward the high performance computing (HPC) space.

Server Snapshot: Penguin Computing has always, as its name implies, focused on developing best practices for Linux-based systems, software and services, particularly in the HPC space.

"After 10 or so years, distributed computing on Linux and x86 cluster platforms continues to deliver impressive performance gains while driving price points which enable adoption of HPC applications," said Crystal Smith, a spokesperson for Penguin Computing (San Francisco, Calif.).

"Our focus is on delivering complete HPC solutions, including x86 multicore servers, high-speed interconnect fabrics, high-end storage back ends [and] a complete software stack, and in enabling professional services."

She sees the server and HPC markets continuing to innovate at a rapid pace. In terms of CPU architectures, she predicts we will soon be seeing close to 50-by-64-bit capable CPU cores in a single node. That will prove to be a boon for HPC workloads that can make good use of multiple parallel I/O requests or computations.

Accordingly, the company continues to upgrade its products with the latest architectures and technologies, particularly its Altus and Relion lines.

Altus

The newest-generation Altus servers are available in a 1U/2U enterprise server format featuring the latest NVIDIA chipset and DDR2 memory. They also offer SATA and SAS storage options with hot-swappable drives, optional RAID controllers and battery backup. However, the main news with the Altus product line has to do with the processor.

"The Opteron Istanbul six-core CPUs are now available in all models," said Smith.

The Altus 1701 is a 1U platform that can host light web farm applications to HPC clusters and enterprise applications. The processor varies from a single AMD 2376 series with 2.3GHz to a two-socket AMD Istanbul 2435 with 2.6GHz. All models come with up to 128GB RAM.

"Lower-end Altus 1701s are popular web server platforms," said Smith. "With Istanbul six-core CPUs, Altus supplies more CPU cores per rack unit than any competition."

AMD 2300 Series Shanghai quad-core CPUs provide an attractive entry price for light web farm applications. All Altus 1701 models include the IPMI 2.0 remote monitoring and management capabilities to ease cluster deployments and off-site administration.

Next up is the Altus 1702. These systems have two independent x86 nodes, thereby doubling the number of CPUs available in a 1U form factor. The 1702 is aimed at cluster deployments where physical space is limited. It comes with two Shanghai CPUs but can be upgraded to "Istanbul" processors.

All told, the 1702 can crowd up to 24 CPU cores in a 1U form factor, or 1,000-plus cores in a rack.

"The 1702 provides two independent dual-socket nodes with up to 128GB RAM and InfiniBand connection on each node," said Smith.

The 2701 series is similar to the 1701, but it comes in a 2U form factor, resulting in more expansion and local storage capacity. It also comes with one to two AMD Shanghai or Istanbul processors and up to 128GB RAM.

Meanwhile, the Altus 600, 1650 and 2650 have all been discontinued.

Relion

Penguin's Relion series feature dual- or quad-core Intel Xeon processors. All Relion servers can now take advantage of the Intel Nehalem architecture. These servers target memory-intensive HPC workloads and scale to support large enterprise applications. They are available in a 1U or 2U form factor.

"Nehalem provides us with vast performance improvements over the old Intel Front Side Bus architecture," said Smith.

Traditionally, Intel's strength has been in the low-end and midrange server market. However, the Nehalem technology has been well-received by the HPC community, said Smith.

The Relion 1701 system is available in a 1U form factor, with one or two Intel 5500 series quad-core processors, up to 96GB RAM and up to 1TB storage capacity. It can work as an enterprise server or a compute node for HPC clusters.

The 1702 packs two independent x86 nodes in a 1U rackmount form factor. It can use up to four quad-core Nehalem processors, 96GB RAM and 1TB storage capacity. The 1702 is targeted for cluster deployments that maximize CPU performance and RAM capacity in a limited space.

The Relion 2701 system is an expandable 2U rackmount server platform and comes with up to two quad-core Nehalem processors, 96GB RAM and 1TB storage capacity. It is ideal for business applications, a management node or file server for a large cluster.

The Relion 2812 is another 2U system optimized for storage applications. One physical unit can scale up to 24TB of storage capacity using SATA drives. It can be further expanded by adding SAS-Connected expansion units. It comes with up to 96GB RAM and two Nehalem processors.

Penguin's Servers at a Glance

Server Line Altus 1701 Altus 2701 Altus 1702 Relion 1701 Relion 2701 Relion 1702 Relion 2712
Target Deployment The 1701 is for HPC clusters and enterprise applications. The 2701 is for HPC clusters and for critical applications. The Altus 1702 is targeted for cluster deployments where compute capacity must be delivered within constrained physical space. The 1701 can be a compact enterprise server or versatile compute node for HPC clusters. The 2701 can be a compact enterprise server or versatile compute node for HPC clusters. The Relion 1702 is targeted for cluster deployments where the emphasis is on delivering the maximum CPU performance and RAM capacity within limited physical space. This open and flexible platform can be deployed individually for file-, database- or email server roles or as a building block for larger distributed storage solutions.
Processor Type Opteron 2300/2400 Series Opteron 2300/2400 Series Opteron 2300/2400 Series Xeon 5500 Series Xeon 5500 Series Xeon 5500 Series Xeon 5500 Series
Processor Range 1 or 2 processors 1 or 2 processors 1 or 2 processors 1 or 2 processors 1 or 2 processors 1 or 2 processors 1 or 2 processors
Operating Systems Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Scyld ClusterWare Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Scyld ClusterWare Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Scyld ClusterWare Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Scyld ClusterWare Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Scyld ClusterWare Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Scyld ClusterWare Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Scyld ClusterWare
Cost Contact Sales Team for More information sales@penguincomputing.com

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he was originally from Scotland where he received a degree in Geology/Geography from the University of Strathcyle. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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