Penguin going portable with clustering

Linux hardware and clustering vendor Penguin unveiled a portable hardware and software Linux-based cluster system dubbed the Portable Penguin Monday.

Linux hardware and clustering vendor Penguin Computing unveiled a portable hardware and software Linux-based cluster system called the Portable Penguin on Monday. The company hopes the new desk-side system will appeal to executives looking for a computer that can run high-end data simulations and can also be wheeled elsewhere in their companies thanks to its castors.

The Portable Penguin is one piece of the company's Application-Ready Cluster Portfolio, which the firm laid out Monday at the Supercomputing conference (SC05) taking place in Seattle through Friday. Penguin has previously discussed the other two components of the portfolio, its higher-end performance and high-density cluster systems. All the systems are factory preconfigured and pretested by Penguin to simplify cluster computing for users by reducing the time they have to spend on system administration, according to Steve Joachims, vice president of corporate marketing at Penguin.

All three cluster-system families are based on Penguin servers preloaded with the company's Scyld Beowulf Linux clustering software and will be generally available early in the first quarter of 2006, Joachims said in a recent phone interview. The servers are powered either by Advanced Micro Devices's (AMD's) Opteron processors or Intel's EM64T chips.

In an August interview with IDG News Service, Bill Cook, Penguin's senior vice president of services and sales, said Penguin's Scyld Software subsidiary was hard at work enhancing the clustering software to give it more mainstream appeal. Portable Penguin is one result of that work, according to Joachims.

The Portable Penguin cluster system is aimed at one to 10 users. "The customer could be an individual power user, a CIO [chief information officer] or a CTO [chief technology officer]," Joachims said. "This will be a volume product for us."

The Portable Penguin has a maximum configuration of 48 processor cores capable of 200 gigaflops of performance, 2.6T bytes of internal storage and 96G bytes of memory, Joachims said. Its workstation form factor is 8 inches wide by 23 inches high by 31 inches deep. The system has a starting price of below US$20,000 for six central processing units (CPUs) and 12G bytes of memory, he added.

Both of the higher-end Penguin cluster systems are aimed at users in data centers.

The Penguin Performance cluster system for five to several hundred users costs from US$100,000 up to more than US$2 million for a maximum of 128 cores per 42U rack, 4G bytes of memory per core and up to 32T bytes of internal storage per rack. It's made up of 1U and 2U rackmount servers. U is the standard unit for measuring the space between shelves on a server rack where 1U equals 1.75 inches. Its maximum performance is 0.75 teraflops. A teraflop is one trillion mathematical calculations per second.

The Penguin High Density cluster system targeting 20 to tens of thousands of users has a starting price of US$500,000 to more than US$10 million and contains a maximum of 480 cores per 42U rack, 960G bytes of memory and 26T bytes of internal storage. Its maximum performance is 2 teraflops.

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