SuSE Targets Itanium Servers With New Platform

Looking to cover all of its bases, SuSE Linux Wednesday began shipping its newest Enterprise Server platform specifically tuned for running on Intel’s Itanium processor family.

The first major installation of the company’s 64-bit compatible SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 will be the National Science Foundation’s ‘TeraGrid.’

Pronounced “soos-ah”, the Nuremberg, Germany-based company with U.S. offices in Oakland, Calif. said its SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 is available for USD$749 per server at the end of the month through either SuSE or one of its retail partners. The package contains four CDs, documentation, and 12-month maintenance program.

This is the first time SuSE has modified its software to run on the latest 64-bit processors from Intel . In addition to basic system support, SuSE says the platform covers protocols that allow it to be used as a Web server (including mySQL), file and print server, Internet and intranet gateway, communication server or an installation server. Version 8 for Itanium also has support for third-party components such as Oracle, SAP (including SAPdb) and IBM’s DB2, Lotus, Domino and Notes.

“The availability of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 for Itanium 2-based systems broadens the scope of Linux offerings on the Itanium processor family, providing customers with an even greater opportunity to develop and deploy high-end 64-bit Linux solutions,” said Intel director of Enterprise Processor Marketing Lisa Graff.

SuSE said it is still on track to release a desktop and enterprise version of its software next month. Version 8.2 incorporates the latest version of KDE 3.1 desktop environment and includes the SuSE-optimized kernel 2.4.20 with support for more than 1,200 drivers. The OS also contains version 4.3 of XFree86 to support even more graphics cards. SuSE Linux 8.2 also includes a pre-release of gcc 3.3 and the latest version of Sun’s Java2 (1.4.1).

The new OS is expected to compete with similar offerings from Red Hat and SCO Group .

One of SuSE 8’s first assignments will be driving parts of the Distributed Terascale Facility (DTF) — also known as “TeraGrid,” — a scientific computing system funded by the National Science Foundation. The interconnected series of clusters is a joint undertaking of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the San Diego Supercomputing Center, Argonne National Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology.

The system will have a storage capacity of more than 600 terabytes of data, or the equivalent of 146 million full-length novels. IBM TotalStorage products and technologies will enable a substantial portion of the grid’s storage infrastructure.

The six-figure deal for SuSE comes in partnership with IBM Global Services — who is deploying clusters of SuSE Linux systems at the four DTF sites. The servers will be based on current and future Intel Itanium 2 processors. IBM supercomputing software — CSM and GPFS — will handle cluster and file management tasks. Myricom’s Myrinet interconnect will enable inter-processor communication.

Another Dose of Itanium

SuSE is just the latest vendor to climb on the Intel Itanium 2 bandwagon. The No. 1 chipmaker is working with manufacturers and other vendors for Windows, Linux, Unix and OS software, high-end servers and workstations. Intel’s third-party vendor list reads like a who’s-who of the computing industry.

Four-way servers that include Intel’s next-generation, 64-bit Itanium 2 processor are expected to sell for about $41,000, Intel says. It’s an early indicator of Itanium 2 pricing – still undisclosed – and demonstrates how Intel is counting on the new processor to vault its products into higher-priced servers and take market share from RISC-based servers from Sun Microsystems .

Already, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft have pledged support for Itanium 2 chips. HP, which helped design the processor, said it would use Intel’s newest versions for its upcoming Superdome server series. Microsoft is expected to modify its Windows 2003 Server software to run perfectly on Itanium.

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