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By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2006-07-11 Print this article Print

It was the X4600 that the Tokyo Institute of Technology used to build TSUBAME, the supercomputer that ranks as the seventh most powerful computer in the world. The supercomputer—a cluster of systems connected via InfiniBand—uses 10,480 Opteron chips and has a sustained peak of 38.18 teraflops, or trillion floating point operations per second. "[Sun] competitors did not have x86-based fat nodes, i.e., those with a large number of CPUs and large memory," said Satoshi Matsuoka, the professor responsible for the computing infrastructures at the schools Global Scientific Information and Computing Center. "This is necessary because good, general-purpose supercomputers are typically built out of such fat nodes, giving various benefits both from user and system administrative perspectives, such as various algorithmic advantages by having large shared memory, support of both shared memory and message passing programming models, lower node count for reliability and manageability, etc. "HP eight-socket nodes were not dense enough and used too much power; IBM never offers x86 eight-way nodes that are supercomputing-capable. This also goes for other Japanese vendors such as Hitachi, Fujitsu, etc."
The two dual-core Opteron-based Sun Fire X4500 archival storage server can hold up to 24 terabytes of data within its 48 hot-swappable disk drives. It has recorded very high throughput numbers in testing: 1G bps from disk to network and 2G bps from disk to memory, Bechtolsheim said.
Lawler said the system will be particularly useful with such workloads as data analysis and data warehousing, video surveillance and streaming, and high-performance computing environments. All three systems—available immediately—were built with virtualization in mind, and to help with the heating and cooling issues that are becoming key concerns in modern data centers. The servers use an unusual new flow-throw system, in which air is forced directly through the disk drives and processors via narrow channels. The announcements come at a time of change for Sun, which saw Scott McNealy in April step down after 22 years as CEO, giving way to Schwartz. The company also is undergoing a restructuring that includes combining its two server businesses—its new Opteron systems and traditional SPARC-based servers—into one unit. In addition, Sun is looking to lay off up to 5,000 people. Click here to read more about the Sun layoffs. But the changes will have no impact on Suns overall product plans or road maps, Fowler said. The company is still on track not only with its Opteron servers but also its SPARC-based Niagara and Rock systems and its Advanced Product Line, being developed jointly with Fujitsu. Sun officials say they are seeing increased demand for the companys Galaxy systems. In the first quarter of 2006, Sun said revenues for its x86 systems was about $120,000, twice that of the same period a year ago. Sun and IBM were the only vendors to better the market in lower-end, x86 server sales in the first quarter, IDC reported. However, Sun x86 server market share still ranks at around 2 percent, according to research firm Gartner, in Stamford, Conn. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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