Supercomputer manufacturer Cray Inc., which currently sells a single system aimed at the highest echelon of users, is expanding its footprint with systems for slightly less expensive HPC applications.
Crays acquisition of OctigaBay Systems Corp., announced late last month, will bring Cray the OctigaBay 12K, a Linux-based high-performance computing platform powered by Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron chip. The OctigaBay technology is designed to increase the performance and remove bottlenecks in HPC systems by embedding a high-speed interconnect called RapidArray Interconnect and communications processors.
The OctigaBay 12K will begin shipping in initial releases in the second half of the year and become generally available in early 2005, officials said.
The OctigaBay purchase, which is valued at approximately $115 million and is expected to close by the end of next month, follows Crays announcement in October that it was productizing its Red Storm supercomputer, a 40-teraflops system it is developing for Sandia National Laboratories. The $93 million system is powered by 10,368 Opteron chips and is due to be operational in the second half of the year.
With Red Storm and the OctigaBay 12K months off, Cray is still a one-product company. The Cray X1 supercomputer sells for between $1 million and $100 million, officials said. Primary users are scientists and engineers doing such tasks as modeling and simulation.
Seattle-based Crays two-pronged initiative will bring it into competition with the likes of Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc., some of which are lining up Opteron-based systems targeted for use in HPC. IBM, for instance, has its eServer 325 system aimed at such environments. Suns acquisition last month of Kealia Inc., which specializes in Opteron-based server designs, illustrates how competitive a space it is, said Jim Garden, an analyst with Technology Business Research Inc., in Hampton, N.H.
In addition, IBM, Sun and HP have commercial server businesses that give them a good return on the research investments they make, Garden said. For example, technology that IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., has developed for HPC has been used in its p690 system, which is now a big seller.
HPC "generally requires pretty deep pockets," Garden said. Cray doesnt "have the commercial volume business to fund the research. ... The real issue is, how are they going to get a return on their investment?"