Cray models commercial supercomputer on Sandia machine

Cray will sell a commercial version of the Red Storm supercomputer that it is building for Sandia National Laboratories, Cray announced Monday.

The Red Storm machine will contain thousands of Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s (AMD's) Opteron processors when it is formally announced next year. Configurations and pricing for the commercial version will also be announced next year, Cray said.

Unlike Sandia's strategy, several high-performance computing (HPC) customers this year have opted to connect numerous systems when assembling supercomputing power. This clustering approach is generally less expensive to assemble than purchasing a large machine from a company like Cray or Silicon Graphics Inc., especially when those clusters are combined with the Linux operating system.

Research facilities such as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratories, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and Japan's National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have all announced plans to deploy Linux clusters of small servers or PCs based on processors from AMD and Intel Corp.

But massively parallel processing (MPP) systems such as Red Storm are better equipped to tackle large complicated computing tasks than clustered systems, Cray's Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marking Peter Ungaro said in Monday's press release.

Red Storm was one of the first scientific computing wins for AMD's Opteron processor. Opteron is a 64-bit processor that can also run 32-bit applications. The HPC community has embraced the processor, but enterprise customers have been slower to adopt the chip, which is supported by only one major server vendor, IBM Corp.

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