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SGI rolls out Itanium 2 servers, clustering tools

Jan 14, 20032 mins

* SGI introduces servers with Intel's Itanium 2 processor

SGI last week launched a family of Intel Itanium 2 servers and clustering products for technical computing tasks.

Called the Altix 3000 family, the Itanium 2 servers can be grouped into shared-memory clusters of as many as 64 processors. Additionally, as many as 64 processors can run a single Linux operating system image and share as much as 512G bytes of memory via clustering technology from SGI called NUMAlink, which is also used in the company’s Origin 3000 servers. The 64-processor groups can be further clustered, into groups of as many as 2,048 nodes.

In shared-memory implementations, the memory normally allocated for a processor is combined with memory reserved for other processors and shared among them, allowing much larger blocks of memory. In this fashion, large data sets can fit in memory, eliminating the need to access disks.

The Linux that runs on these servers is built on Red Hat Linux 7.2, which uses the most current Linux 2.4 kernel.

SGI has also added software called SGI ProPack, which manages the resources within the cluster, allocates memory, tunes processors and maintains binary-compatibility of existing 64-bit Linux applications. SGI ProPack has the company’s XFS file system, which allows scalability and flexibility. XFS is based on the company’s file system that runs on its high-end Irix servers.

The systems have a variety of management tools that let users partition the server and increase its fault tolerance.

The SGI Altix servers consist of two models, the 3300 and the 3700. The Altix 3300 can use four to 12 Itanium 2 processors and operate at 900 MHz; the 3700 uses 16 to 64 processors and also runs at 900 MHz. The 3300 has 1.5M bytes of L3 cache and supports as much as 96G bytes of memory. The 3700 also has 1.5M bytes of L3 cache; an optional 1-GHz model is available with 3M bytes of L3.

An entry-level four-processor Altix 3000 server starts at $70,180 and is expected to be available this quarter. A 64-processor Altix starts at $1.1 million.