Brick-by-brick servers

SGI has launched its SGI 3000 family of servers and workstations that sport a modular design and building block-like computer architecture.

The new systems are based on a 'brick'-style construction for building small to very large systems using common building blocks, according to Ben Passarelli, the director of advanced systems product management for SGI.

Relying on SGI-patented NUMAflex technology, each drawer-like brick of the SGI 3000 family has its own specific function and can be linked to other specialised bricks to form a fully customised configuration.

"We've refined NUMA (non-uniform memory access) so the distance latency between (the bricks) is so small you can ignore it," said Passarelli.

SGI is offering seven bricks for all initial 3000 family configurations.

The C-brick, which houses the processors, the P-brick for PCI expansion, the D-brick for disk storage, the R-brick for router interconnects, the I-brick which serves as the base I/O module, the X-brick which provides throughput expansion for gigabyte networks, and the G-brick which adds advanced graphics capabilities.

Each brick mounts on a standard 19in rack, but some customisation may be necessary for larger implementations to prevent cable kinking, according to Passarelli.

The company will add additional bricks to the 3000 series as newer technologies arrive, such as Infiniband and PCI-X.

A base configuration would require the minimum of a C-brick and an I-brick. And a single system can scale from two to 512 processors and up to a terabyte of memory, officials said.SGI is rolling out the new 3000 family as the SGI Origin 3000, a server configuration, and the SGI Onyx 3000, a high-end graphics workstation.

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