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SGI Brings the High End to the Masses

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Jul 13, 2005


With the promise of "a supercomputer on every desktop," SGI this week added another player to the crowded yet evolving and amorphic midrange space.

SGI's latest offering delivers high-end capabilities in a midrange system at an entry-level price point.

The rack-mounted Altix 330 server and InfiniteStorage S330 storage array, both unveiled Monday, complete SGI end-to-end portfolio for the midrange space. The solutions are designed to function in a workgroup or departmental environment, Hoa Pham, marketing manager for Altix midrange systems, told ServerWatch.

The new server represents SGI foray out of the verticals space, which has long been its sweet spot, and into the mainstream marketplace, Pham said. "We're seeing a volume opportunity in places where the technology is affordable, and [the opportunity] to go deeper in places where they already are."

Specifically, the combination of 64-bit and Linux makes it possible to deliver supercomputing capabilities at an entry server price point. The server is available only for Red Hat and SUSE Linux distros. Future bug fixes, optimization, and various performance advancements will be made available directly to Altix 330 customers via the SGI ProPack, Pham noted. The platform, which can scale from 1 to 16 processors, takes advantage of how well-suited Linux is for clustered environments, and renders "fork-lift" upgrades unnecessary.

Form-factor-wise, the Altix 330 has a high-density chassis in a footprint akin to a pizza box. The Itanium-2-based server contains 128 GB of memory per system and has a high-performance, shared-memory SGI NUMAlink interconnect for I/O of 6.4 GB per second. Its modular architecture is designed to enable enterprises to scale processors, memory, and I/O resources independently.

SGI also unveiled a complementary storage solution at this time. The InfiniteStorage S330 is poised to compete with Apple's Xserve RAID, Mark Wiertella, product manager for SGI storage line told ServerWatch. Although its starting price of $12,599 is higher than Apple's, the system delivers 50-percent more power, Wiertella said. It is also less than half the price of previous SGI storage offerings.

The Altix 330 is hardly SGI maiden voyage into the midrange space. In January 2004, SGI unveiled the Altix 350, a more "middle" midrange server, which has a entry price of $12,799. It is specifically designed for scientists, design engineers, researchers, and other technical computing users. In addition to price, the main differences between the Altix 350 and the Altix 330 is the Altix 350's scalability (up to 32 processors) and memory (it contains 384 GB per system).

The Altix 330 has a starting price of $7,000. It is currently shipping to select resellers, with SGI "Quick Ship" option also available. The server, along with its S330 storage counterpart, is expected to begin shipping in volume by the end of September, Wiertella said.

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