SuSE, Cray team up to brew Red Storm

SuSE Linux AG on Monday announced it has been selected by Cray to play an integral role in developing the U.S. Department of Energy's parallel processing computer, called Red Storm, to be located at the Sandia National Laboratories.

Expected to be used for applications such as simulations of U.S. nuclear stockpiles, the upcoming system will use AMD's 64-bit Opteron processor in concert with a high bandwidth, low latency internal switching architecture, company officials said. The system will not be operational until late in 2004, although Cray and SuSE have already begun work on it.

SuSE officials believe they won the contract based on its experience with 64-bit Linux-based operating system implementations as well as its delivery of clustering technology for Intel's Itanium processor.

"It is not surprising if you consider we are the only ones out there to run a 64-bit architecture, and we do have a lot of know-how in clustering already. I think they needed someone who could help them with both development and technical support," said Holger Dyroff, U.S. general manager of SuSE in Oakland, Calif. "We started developing our Operton implementation three year ago," he added.

Dyroff said the implementation for the upcoming system would likely be SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.0 and be based on the 2.6 version of the Linux kernel.

Cray executives confirmed that SuSE's existing products and support made it an attractive technology partner for the project.

"We picked SuSE Linux Enterprise Server and AMD 64 because it combines Linux with an architecture for high-performance computing," said Wayne Kugel, Cray's executive of operations for the Red Storm project. "We think SuSE Linux is a strong operating system for high-performance computing," he added.

Based on existing supercomputer projects and their expected arrival, company officials from SuSE and Cray believe that upon its completion Red Storm will be the fastest supercomputer in the United States.

The deal should serve to further strengthen the momentum Intel and Intel-compatible chip makers are establishing among the world's fastest supercomputers. A report also released on Monday showed that among the world's 500 fastest supercomputers, Intel-based systems now make up 119 of that number, up from 56 just the year before.

"The Intel and AMD chips have by far the best price performance ratio at this point in time, which is the major reason for its growing dominance," Dyroff said.

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