SGI Acquires Linux Networx

The acquisition should help SGI build Linux-based clusters for high-performance computing.

SGI is looking to boost its supercomputer profile.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company, which continues to rank as one of the leading builders of supercomputers, announced Feb. 14 that it has acquired Linux Networx, a company best known for developing Linux clusters for HPC (high-performance computing).

In the world of supercomputing, clusters remain the dominant architecture for building these massive machines. Of the Top 500 supercomputers, 406 are designated as clusters. In addition to its role in building clusters, LNXI (Linux Networx) also specializes in developing and building systems that use Linux, which remains the dominant operating system used in HPC.

The supercomputing market is controlled by just a few players, such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, SGI and Cray, which continue to dominate the list of the Top 500 machines year after year. The market is also expected to grow about 9 percent through 2011 and many of these same players are looking to expand that market by bringing more of these machines out of labs and research facilities and into mainstream enterprises.

The cluster design allows supercomputers to scale to meet the needs of mainstream businesses. It also allows vendors to use off-the-shelf and commodity parts, such as x86 microprocessors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, to build high-performance computers that are much more affordable.

Another company, Appro, has had success in recent years in building these types of supercomputers.

In a statement, SGI executives said the software and other technologies SGI acquired from Linux Networx will help develop "production-ready high-performance" supercomputers. The deal also gives SGI access to power and cooling designs.

In addition to its acquisition of Linux Network, SGI announced that it has received new funding from Oak Investment Partners and Lehman Brothers, which should allow the company to continue to invest in its core HPC business.

"We're in a position to acquire key technology and expertise to further power our growth," SGI CEO Robert "Bo" Ewald said in a statement. "This represents the first of such key technology acquisitions and will help further the development of our software environment and support for our clustered systems."

SGI designed and built 22 of the machines on the current list of the world's Top 500 supercomputers. Linux Networx, which a few years ago boasted of more than 15 of its machines on the Top 500 list, is now credited with nine. IBM remains the dominant vendor with 232 supercomputers listed on the Top 500.