Orions 96-Node Workstation Brings Clusters to Desktop

The new DS-96, with 192GB memory, will run using standard technology and handle complex workloads at the user's desktop.

Orion has begun shipping a 96-processor clustered workstation aimed at users who want to run complex workloads on their desktops.

Orion Multisystems Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., already sells a 12-node desktop workstation—the DT-12—that offers up to 24GB of memory. The new system, the DS-96, offers up to 192GB of memory for about $100,000, said President and CEO Colin Hunter.

The clustered workstations work by linking processors within a single box. Complex workloads can then be broken down, with the different parts being run simultaneously.

The workstations run on standard technology, such as Transmeta Corp.s x86 low-power Efficeon processors, Ethernet connectivity and MPI (Message Passing Interface). "Pretty much anything that runs on a standard cluster will run on us," Hunter said.

That is important for scientists, engineers and graphic designers looking for such a system, he said. For most of these people, if they want to run a complex task, they have to get time on clustered servers housed in back rooms. With Orions systems, they can now do those jobs at their desktops on their own schedules, Hunter said.

It also is a way into cluster computing for users who might have been scared away by the complexity, he said.

"They can dip their toes in the cluster world," he said. "Many people have been interested in clusters but have been intimidated by them."

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about Orions single-box cluster workstations.

Orion began selling the 12-node system in October, and has garnered about three dozen customers. Now the company is looking to expand both its technological offers and its global reach.

Hunter said Orion is moving in several directions for its future systems, including adding more processors, more nodes within the same power envelope, lower latency between chips and 64-bit computing.

It also is looking at chips beyond the Efficeons. Transmeta last month announced a change in its business, de-emphasizing its chip-making business and focusing on its intellectual property, particularly its LongRun2 power management software.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about Transmetas restructuring of its business to focus on licensing its software IP.

Hunter said Orion is one of the customers Transmeta will support with Efficeon chips, but that the company is looking at other manufacturers. He declined to name those other vendors.

The company also is making an aggressive push into Europe this month, and will do the same next month in Asia, where it already has three customers, Hunter said. The company already has several in Europe, he said.

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