SGI Will Introduces Blade Servers

The new line, kicking off with the unveiling of the Altix 4000, will increase the density and configuration capabilities of the Altix platform.

Silicon Graphics Inc. next week will introduce a redesign of its Altix server line based on a bladed form factor.

The new line will kick off with the unveiling of the Altix 4000 platform at the SuperComputing 2005 show in Seattle. The new system will become generally available late in the first quarter, said Jill Matzke, product marketing manager for the Altix line.

The new modular system increases the density and configuration capabilities of the Altix platform, and will run not only Intel Corp.s current single-core Itanium 2 processor, but also the dual-core "Montecito" chip, due in mid-2006, and the "Montvale" processor after that.

"With this platform, you have a huge amount of flexibility," Matzke said.

The move comes at a difficult time for SGI, of Mountain View, Calif. The company has faced increasing competition in the high-end enterprise and high-performance computing market, and earlier this month it was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange after its stock traded for less than $1 per share for six months.

However, Matzke said the redesigned Altix systems will give customers in the HPC space features theyve been looking for, including greater flexibility and scalability. She also noted that SGI already has $68 million in commitments from U.S. companies to buy the new system.

The dense form factor— which can fit up to 40 blades in a two-foot-by-three-foot rack, and hold up to 160 Itanium 2 chips for almost 1 teraflop of performance—uses SGIs shared memory NUMAflex architecture for greater scalability. It also runs standard Linux operating systems from Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc.s Suse unit, rather than SGIs own Linux variant.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about SGIs business strategy.

The platform also offers a variety of blades, including processor, memory, I/O and graphics blades. It also includes FPGA (field-programmable gate array)-based RASC (Reconfigurable Application Specific Computing) in the blades. The technology helps businesses scale their applications, Matzke said.

She said SGI will continue to sell the Altix 3000 series of systems, but expects customers to quickly gravitate to the new 4000 platform.

/zimages/1/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.