Advanced Micro Devices Inc. got a boost Thursday when the Los Alamos National Laboratory announced it will use more than 3,300 Opteron chips in two of its Linux clusters.
The laboratory will use 2,800 of the AMD chips in what is being called the Lightening cluster, which will be used to support the National Nuclear Security Administrations ASCI (Advanced Simulation and Computing) program. Once completed in October, the cluster will have a peak of 11.2 teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second).
ASCI oversees the monitoring of the countrys nuclear weapons.
The other cluster, code-named Orange, will be part of the laboratorys Institutional Computing project, which includes such research as the design of antibiotics and simulations of wildfires. The 256-node dual-processor cluster will be the first Opteron-based system to use the InfiniBand interconnect, according to officials with AMD, in Sunnyvale, Calif.
The clusters are being designed and built by Linux NetworX Inc., of Salt Lake City. Both clusters will use the Opteron 244 model for two-way systems, which run at 1.8GHz.
"[The clusters are] continued proof points of Opterons success in the marketplace," said Ben Williams, director of AMDs server and workstation business segment. "When youve got companies and labs like Los Alamos … its an additional proof point that says if Los Alamos thinks its good enough to do this [research], just think what it can do with your print and file [applications]."
Williams said that in the high-tech industry, new technologies are first embraced in the academic and research realms, then "waterfall" into the enterprise. Opteron has passed the first test, and Williams said he expects it will start making headway into the enterprise later this year.
The key to Opteron, as it tries to gain traction not only against Intel Corp.s 64-bit Itanium chip but also its 32-bit Xeon offerings, is its ability to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications equally well. The latest Itanium 2 chip, released in June, offers a 32-bit emulation layer to enable businesses to run their 32-bit applications, but not with the same performance of the Xeons.
Officials with the Los Alamos laboratory, in New Mexico, said the Opteron chip will allow for easy migration to 64-bit computing, while still enabling them to run their 32-bit applications.
Opteron also has seen its support from major industry players grow. Earlier this month, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., launched its Opteron-based eServer 325, and officials said the company was working on a workstation powered by the chip. There also has been software support from IBM, Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.