Intel eyes super computers

Intel, is eyeing new markets like high performance computing (HPC) and super computers by pumping in US$36million for its advanced computing research (APC). It wants to compete in a segment crowded by IBM, SGI, SUN, Cray, NEC, Hitachi, AMD, HP and now Apple.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  November 19, 2003

Intel, known for its consumer and enterprise server processors is eyeing new markets like high performance computing (HPC) by pumping in US$36 Million for its advanced computing research.

The microprocessor vendor is trying to prove that building super computers and HPC can cheap, fast and easy on Intel's processors, as tries to muscle into a segment competed by IBM, SGI, SUN, Cray, NEC, Hitachi, AMD, HP and now Apple.

According to the 22nd edition of the 'Top 500' list of the world's fastest supercomputers released this week, Intel processors are gaining acceptance in the high performance computing (HPC) solutions segment.

Intel claims that nearly 38% of systems on the list use Intel processors, 15 % points more than the closest competing architecture and overtaking RISC-based systems for the first time.

"Intel-based supercomputers are enabling breakthrough research to happen faster and more affordably for government, commercial and academic institutions in the Middle East and around the world. Our focus on this market segment and its future will benefit from our investment and work with key academia, government and industry advocates on the Advanced Computing Program effort," says Rod Oshea, Intel's regional director in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

The Top 500 project was started in 1993 to provide a reliable basis for tracking and detecting trends in high-performance computing. Twice a year, a list of the sites operating the 500 most powerful computer systems are assembled and released.

To make its presence in HPC segment stronger, Intel is investing US$36 million and additional engineering resources to bolster R&D and investment in future HPC designs and solutions, as a part of its Advanced Computing Programme (ACP). As part of this programme, Intel is focusing on building supercomputers built with 'off-the-shelf' components, to enable traditional supercomputer users to quickly deploy scalable, high-performance computing systems using Intel's Pentium 4, Itanium 2 and Xeon processors.

The list includes 189 systems based on Intel Itanium 2 or Intel Xeon processors, a 58 % increase from just six months ago and more than triple the 56 systems listed in November 2002. Five of the top 15 systems use Intel processors and the number of Intel Itanium 2-based systems increased to 32, up 68% from 19 systems in June.

In a related announcement, Intel and the University of California at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) disclosed that they will deploy a supercomputer in January 2004, that will use 4,000 Intel Itanium 2 processors and is expected to be a top-ranked system included in the next list to be issued in June.

At the recent Supercomputing 2003, Intel led an industry collaboration to demonstrate an HPC cluster solutions that delivers over one teraflop of computing power using industry standard building blocks.

The configuration, assembled in less than two days on the show floor, is built on a 192 node Intel architecture platform based cluster. According to Intel, teraflop configurations have taken months to configure and have not been possible to demonstrate in a show environment.

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