SGI takes Linux to the next level

Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) has brought its supercomputing capabilities to the Linux platform with the launch of its Altix 3000 family of servers and superclusters.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  March 10, 2003

Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) has brought its supercomputing capabilities to the Linux platform with the launch of its Altix 3000 family of servers and superclusters. The machines, which are built using the vendor’s NUMAflex supercomputing architecture, Intel’s 64 bit Itanium 2 processors and the open source operating system, allow a single Linux image to scale across 64 processors for the first time.

“Linux, as you can buy it from Red Hat, scales to a maximum of eight CPUs. However, by putting our own layer on top of the Linux operating system we can allow users to scale Linux to 64 processors. This in turn delivers better scalability and superior performance,” says Gilbert Soufan, territory manager for the Middle East, SCI.

Unlike traditional clusters, where memory is broken up and divided among each CPU, the Altix uses SGI’s NUMAlink system interconnect fabric to provide global shared memory across nodes and operating systems. Each node runs a single Linux operating system image with up to 64 Itanium 2 processors and delivers 512 G/bytes of memory. As such, SGI claims the 3000 family can scale to thousands of processors and outperform any existing Linux OS-based cluster or Unix OS-based server.

“The Altix family of machines will give users more scalability and performance than ever before. If you look at an oil company that needs to do a huge reservoir model, for example, a cluster will never be able to give them all the results they want because the model will exceed the amount of memory one cluster node can provide. With our machines, users will be able to create the model and get the results they need because they can use up to 64 processors and have around half a terabyte of memory in the same box,” says Soufan.

The Altix family is targeted at SGI’s traditional technical customer base, which includes the physical and life sciences, manufacturing, oil & gas, government, and the defence sector. Within the Middle East, however, the machines will also be sold into the broadcast industry.

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