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Silicon Graphics Unveils 'Supercomputer In A Blade'

Posted by inet - 2006-03-17

A supercomputer in a blade was unveiled Wednesday by Silicon Graphics. The company has constructed the product from dual Xilinx Virtex 4 FPGAs to create a high-performance computing (HPC) configuration that features a low cost and small footprint for the HPC universe.

The SGI RASC (Reconfigurable Application-Specific Computing) RC100 computation blade leverages the inherent parallelism of the Xilinx FPGAs and in the process creates an HPC solution that has the power of dozens of supercomputer nodes in a single blade, SGI said.

"FPGA technology offers significant computation, I/O and memory bandwidth advantages over traditional CPU-only solutions," said Ron Renwick, manager, SGI configurable computing, in a statement. "HPC users now can take advantage of an FPGA solution built" on the SGI Altix platform. The SGI noted that its Altix family has had a strong presence in 64-bit Linux computing.

SGI expects the new blade configurations to find use primarily in sophisticated computing involving algorithms. "With certain codes that our researchers run, application performance often boils down to efficiently executing a relatively small set of algorithms again and again," said Warren Gross, a professor in McGill University's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in a statement. He added that the new blade when used with certain Altix shared-memory platforms can dramatically accelerate computing applications that use large databases.

SGI said that third-party high-level language development tools will be available for use with the new RASC solution, which is offered in two base configurations. The RC100 blade can be installed on SGI Altix 4000 servers in a plug-and-play manner, while non-blade architecture systems will be available for users to install RC100 blades on SGI Altix 3700 Bx2 and Altix 350 servers.

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