SGI Rolls Out Octane III Personal Supercomputer

SGI's new Octane III personal supercomputer, which can support up to 80 processing cores and up to 960GB of memory, is the latest offering from the company designed to close the gap in HPC between the data center and desktop. Octane III follows SGI's release in August of the CloudRack X2 aimed at departmental units and workgroups.

Since Rackable Systems bought Silicon Graphics in May, officials with the new SGI have been working to close what they said is a market gap in the high-performance computing space between workstations and clusters.

SGI in August began closing that gap with the CloudRack X2 cluster aimed at the department and workgroup levels. On Sept. 21, the company is completing the lineup with Octane III, what SGI officials are calling a personal supercomputer.

"Octane III is re-establishing SGI in the desktop space," Geoffrey Noer, senior director of product marketing at SGI, said in an interview.

Whereas the CloudRack X2 can support up to 216 processing cores, Octane III can scale from eight to 80 cores.

OEMs are beginning to bring HPC (high-performance computing) capabilities to the desktop. Cray in July launched the CX1 deskside supercomputer, while Hewlett-Packard offers its BladeSystem c3000 enclosure-dubbed "Shorty"-that also can act as a personal supercomputer.

SGI's Octane III comes in a 1-foot-by-2-foot pedestal and can hold up to 10 two-way computing nodes or 19 one-way nodes. It also includes integrated networking, support for all the top operating systems-including Microsoft Windows and Red Hat and SUSE Linux-and advanced graphics capabilities.

"You just plug it in and it works," Noer said.

It comes in a number of configurations, including versions with Intel's quad-core Xeon 5500 Series "Nehalem EP" processors, Xeon 3400 Series and Intel's Atom chips. The dual-socket Nehalem configuration supports up to 960GB of memory, and versions also come with 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard disk drives, or diskless storage. Octane III also supports Gigabit Ethernet or InfiniBand networking.

Pricing starts at $7,995 for one Xeon 5500 node and Gigabit Ethernet networking, and configurations with Xeon 5500 and Atom chips are available immediately.