Today, with the release of SGI® Altix™ 350, a new Intel® Itanium® 2 and 64-bit Linux® OS-based server, Silicon Graphics fundamentally changes the price-performance landscape of the high-growth $2.6 billion midrange technical computing market. The SGI Altix 350 server delivers up to 50 percent price and up to 75 percent performance advantages over proprietary UNIX® SMP servers from Sun, IBM and HP. SGI Altix 350, which spans a broad range of scalable configurations, is the only midrange system purpose-built specifically for scientists, design engineers, researchers and other technical computing users.
Powered by Intel Itanium 2 processors, SGI Altix 350 is a superior 64-bit Linux solution for technical database servers, departmental servers and throughput clusters starting at $12,199. A 4-processor configuration starts at a list price of $21,599, which establishes a breakthrough price point of $5,400 per processor for a scalable midrange system.
“The technical departmental computing segment has led HPC market growth through the first three quarters of 2003,” said Christopher Willard, Research VP at IDC. “Historically, this segment has represented about 40 percent of revenues for the overall technical server market, and over 90 percent of system shipments. The combination of the Altix 350’s price point and scalability positions SGI to compete in the strong departmental market, and extends SGI’s product line to cover virtually all price points in the overall HPC market.”
Because it leverages open computing standards and components, SGI Altix 350 delivers another important new advantage to the midrange technical computing market: it breaks the “hostage technology” grip of proprietary UNIX SMP server vendors. Users of standards-based computing environment can run hundreds of standard Linux applications on Altix. In addition, there are approximately 100 technical market applications specifically optimized to take advantage of the advanced architectural features of Altix.
“Customers for midrange departmental technical servers are looking for new solutions that are lower cost, more flexible and easily configurable; and which don’t lock them in to proprietary environments,” said Dave Parry, senior vice president and general manager, Server and Platform Group, SGI. “Altix 350 addresses all of these needs. It has seized the price-performance lead in this market by combining the advantages of open-source Linux software, industry-standard high-performance Itanium 2 processors, and SGI’s advanced shared-memory system architecture. Our goal with Altix 350 is to take significant share of this important market segment from our competitors selling proprietary UNIX systems.”
While most offerings in the technical computing market are retrofitted general-purpose systems, the Altix 350 server is purpose-built to support the unique requirements of scientists and engineers who deal with a diverse and changing array of heterogeneous workflows. As with SGI® Altix™ 3000 systems, the Altix 350 server offers breakthrough flexibility and configurability. It is uniquely capable of independently scaling across processors, shared memory and/or I/O on a single, standard chassis with different expansion modules, making it ideal for demanding technical applications. Thus, customers only buy the resources they actually need as their workloads change. Whereas competitors’ systems require different chassis and “forklift upgrades,” with limited features for each processor count, Altix 350 extends SGI’s unique “expand-on-demand” capability, delivering full midrange scalability up to 16 processors on one building block. In addition, Altix 350 clusters can scale out to thousands of processors using industry-standard interconnects like Gigabit Ethernet and Infiniband.
Several leading technical computing organizations are favorably impressed with Altix 350:
*“NASA has computational modeling requirements suitable for a spectrum of machines,” said Bob Ciotti, Tera-Scale Applications Lead at NASA Ames Research Center. “There is clearly a need for systems in the middle range with better scaling characteristics than PC clusters yet costing much less per processor than supercomputing systems. Such a system would be useful for exploring a large number of modeling scenarios at a lower level of fidelity, allowing one to determine specific points of interest. With the right price/performance combination, a system of that character would help us make more efficient use of all our computing resources.”
*“Our work requires us to find a mid-range solution that provides excellent parallel and scalar performance, and we needed flexibility in making the whole system memory available to all processors,” said Dr. Jose Sanchez, professor of physical chemistry at The Molecular Sciences Institute at Spain’s University of Valencia. “The Altix 350 server features a shared-memory architecture that works well for these applications, and the performance boost that we expect from the Intel Itanium 2 processors should make porting our applications and data to Linux a secondary consideration.”
Since its introduction less than a year ago, the SGI Altix family has been adopted by leading technical computing organizations in the life sciences, manufacturing, government, and energy industries, along with academia. Included among more than 150 Altix customers are Tata Motors, NASA Ames Research Center, University of Cambridge COSMOS Project, SARA (Dutch National HPC and Networking Center), Marathon Oil & Gas and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. With the Altix line, SGI introduced the first Linux node with 64 processors in a standard Linux kernel. And while most competitive offerings scale only from four to eight processors, the Altix product line scales from one to 512 processors today.
Built on the same system architecture and optimized Linux environment as the award-winning Altix 3000 supercomputer product line, the new Altix system is the industry’s first production-class Linux OS-based midrange server, uniquely capable of scaling up to 16 processors utilizing a global shared memory architecture. SGI’s approach to global shared-memory eliminates data transfer overhead by providing a single memory address, allowing all processors to access all the data in the system’s memory directly and efficiently. Altix 350 supports such shared memory up to 192GB with as few as one processor.
To simplify management and maximize system effectiveness, SGI offers SGI ProPack™ software which includes tools, libraries, and performance improvements enabling users to solve their big compute and data problems using Altix systems. SGI ProPack system-, data- and resource-management solutions enhance features in the standard Linux distribution. With the momentum of Altix 3000, and with the common architecture and optimized Linux environment across the Altix family, hundreds of commercial technical applications are available immediately for Altix 350. For more information on the SGI Altix 350 server, go to www.sgi.com/servers/altix/350.