Two months after Rackable Systems closed the deal to buy the old SGI, officials with the new SGI are touting a product road map that shows a future not only for Rackable servers, but also for the legacy SGI hardware. SGI officials also are saying both Rackable hardware and legacy SGI hardware are attractive to the HPC space. However, the next-generation high-end Altix system, code-named Ultraviolet, will be powered not by Itanium processors but by Intel's upcoming processors code-named Nehalem EX.
When Rackable Systems
closed its $42.5 million acquisition of Silicon
Graphics Inc. in May, officials touted the new company as one that could play a
significant role not only in the data center, but also in the supercomputing
Two months later, officials with the new SGI-now
Silicon Graphics International-say the integration of the two businesses is on
schedule and they already are seeing the benefits
of merging Rackable's data center-focused systems
-designed for the Internet
and cloud computing space-with the old SGI's
HPC (high-performance computing) expertise.
However, while SGI is going to continue
that push into the HPC space, it is going to
do so without Intel's high-end Itanium chip. "Ultraviolet," the next
generation of the high-end SGI Altix
servers-a holdover from the old SGI and a
key player in the new company's HPC
push-will be powered by Intel's upcoming
"Nehalem EX" processors
rather than the Itanium chip, which the
current Altix 4700 systems run on, Geoff Noer, senior director of product
marketing at SGI, said in an interview.
Intel already has released the Xeon 5500 Series or Nehalem EP chips for
servers with two sockets. The Nehalem eight-core EX chips, for servers with
four sockets, are expected to appear in servers in the first part of 2010.
The chip maker has been hampered by delays
in the release of the next-generation Itanium chip, code-named Tukwila,
some analysts believe that the chip will continued to be squeezed into smaller
and more niche spaces, thanks to advances Intel has made with its Xeon
Tukwila is now due out in early 2010.
SGI will continue to sell the
Itanium-based Altix 4700 line of systems, but will move forward with the
Nehalem EX chips for future designs.
Noer said SGI officials are touting the
ways that Rackable's product line dovetails with legacy SGI
offerings to give HPC environments a healthy
list of options.
The Rackable name has been assigned to the new company's line of scale-out
x86 servers-including rack systems and blade servers-and the legacy Altix ICE HPC
blade platform has moved under the Rackable label. The Altix line remains under
the SGI label in the scale-up category of
systems, Noer said.
The CloudRack C2 system is an example of how the two companies mesh. The
blade system, which Rackable launched in the first quarter of 2009, has
qualities-including high-speed interconnects-that are usable in both enterprise
data centers and HPC environments, Noer
said. "This is an area of cross-pollination with the legacy SGI
side," he said.
In June, SGI announced new x86 Rackable
servers that support both on-board
InfiniBand connectivity and 10 Gigabit Ethernet,
a move aimed at the HPC
space, officials said.
The energy-efficient nature of the Rackable servers will bleed over into the
legacy SGI systems, Noer said. "That's
a value to the high-performance computing market as well," he said.
The decision to go with Nehalem EX chips for Ultraviolet rather than Itanium
is a part of the power-efficiency story, he said, calling it "a major step
In addition, SGI is getting interest from
HPC environments in its ICE Cube containerized
Noer said. The interest ranges from customers that want to
expand their data center capacity, but don't want to wait to build onto their
facilities, to businesses that need temporary capacity increases.
Noer said the integration within the company has gone well, and customers, particularly
legacy customers of SGI, are responding
"One of [the legacy] SGI's largest
challenges was its financial situation," he said, alluding to the
struggles the former Silicon Valley giant went through during
the past decade.
Now that the financial instability is past-and as the new SGI
shows off its product road map-customers are gaining confidence, he said.