Enterprise HPC News Weekly Wrap-up for May 25, 2007

This was a big news week for enterprise HPC. This week's summary includes Oracle 11i performance numbers on IBM's Power6, the first Barcelona results from AMD, clusters based on Windows CCS 2003, Dell's datacenter solution, and a lot more.

Here’s a collection of highlights, selected totally subjectively, from this week’s enterprise HPC news stream as reported at insideHPC.com.

  • AMD publishes first Barcelona results; Intel’s Penryn may pose threat; more
  • IBM Power6 results on Oracle 11i: fast; more here and here
  • Sun to release new Xeon- and Niagara-based blade offerings next month; more
  • United Devices announced Insight 4.0 this week
  • Xen 3.1 announced, adds support for live relocation of virtual machines, enhanced 64-bit hypervisor; more
  • Paper in the Architecture Journal detailing the configuration of a workflow-based HPC system based on Microsoft’s Compute Cluster Server 2003 and an bunch of other MS technology; more
  • For those using Grid Engine for workload management, Sun is sponsoring a workshop Sep 10-12 in Germany.

Server market: we’re number 1. And so are we.

Gartner and IDC release server sales survey results this week and show IBM and HP are number 1.

Market analyst firm IDC just released its Q107 Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker. That report shows that HP shipped more servers than any other company, and lead the HPC market again in the first quarter of 2007. This is the 20th consecutive quarter that HP has led industry server sales. From HP’s release, “In the high-performance computing market, HP maintained its No. 1 spot for the first quarter of calendar year 2007 with 33.7 percent revenue share.” more

And just to make sure you have a hard time identifying who’s really out front, Gartner announced today that IBM is number one in server revenue share. The difference between this announcement and the HP one appears to be that IDC shows HP as leading in units shipped, while Gartner shows IBM as making more money. If I’m right, I’d rather be IBM. more

Building a cluster with Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003?

There are oodles of information sources out there to help get you started, courtesy of Microsoft’s influence as the 9,000 pound gorilla in IT. But two new ones showed up in this week’s news stream, and I thought I’d point them out to you. The first comes courtesy of Fujitsu in the form of a “best practices” paper on building a Windows CCS cluster with their servers and switches, Myricom cards and drivers, and Active Directory. From the company:

“The Best Practice paper is intended to provide the fundamentals of configuring Fujitsu 10 GbE switches, as well as installing software for setting up a complete cluster. Tested in the Microsoft computing labs, this best practice installation approach will further service the industry, educate IT professionals on proper deployment and implementation guidelines, and facilitate the installers’ success.”

More here.

Dan Fay also points to a paper in The Architecture Journal detailing the configuration of an HPC cluster using Windows CCS and a bunch of other MS technology for a solution that focuses on workflow. From the article,

“Microsoft Cluster Compute Server Edition is easy to include as a service gateway inside a general n-tier application structure, and is simple to integrate via command-line or API hooks.”

More here.

in silico Drug Discovery

Bio-IT World picked up an article in HPCwire last week:

The advancement of genomics and proteomics via high-performance computing is drawing new companies into the drug discovery business. One such company, Gencom Inc., has developed a drug discovery platform based on the Intel Itanium 2 hardware. At April’s Intel Developer’s Forum, Gencom received an Honorable Mention in the Itanium Solutions Alliance’s Humanitarian Impact awards for its use of Itanium to advance functional genomics.

The system operates on Microsoft-based technologies. The interview is interesting in that it provides some insight into how a system like this evolves from concept to production. HPCwire article here.

Profile on Sun’s proximity interconnect

Profile on Sedna, Sun’s proximity interconnect, and the man behind the implementation, Hans Eberle. You may recall that the Big Idea behind Sedna is to transfer data between chips without using wires. Eberle is already reporting results of I/O bandwidth two orders of magnitude higher than by conventional methods.

Instead of using a complex, multi-stage, hierarchical design where you actually have to schedule the path through the various switching elements, requiring a fantastic degree of coordination, the new design is a simple, single-stage switch.

“With Proximity Communication we’re getting something like two orders of magnitude more I/O bandwidth. What that means is we don’t have to make use of hierarchical topologies. We basically can look at this as a flat switch,” Eberle says.

Read the whole thing here.

Dell’s datacenter solution

This article from SeekingAlpha on Friday is interesting in the degree to which it illuminates the high volume hype computer vendors are cranking out these days as they try to go green and become your one stop datacenter shop.

Dell’s CTO Kevin Kettler and Jay Parker, director of PowerEdge servers… announced Project Hybrid, which they said will set a new industry standard for reducing cost and complexity in datacenters.

…It appears that Dell’s approach is to deliver plug-and-play, power efficient, virtualized datacenter equipment. “[Customers] want it in a package, and they don’t want to piece it together,” Parker said. It’s unclear how unique that will be in the next six months.

He went on to say that the benefits of Project Hybrid will supposedly bring–reduction in deployment times from weeks and days to hours and minutes, reduction in power consumption by 40 percent, and management costs sliced by up to 50 percent–don’t exist today from HP, IBM or even Dell today.

It wasn’t at all clear to me (or the author, Dan Farber from ZDnet) from reading the piece how Dell’s solution is a shift from what HP, IBM, or Sun are offering. Parker did go out of his way to characterize other vendor offerings as “vaporware,” which is ironic since Dell’s stuff isn’t supposed to start shipping until “the second half of this year.”

John West summarizes the HPC news headlines every day at insideHPC.com, and writes on leadership and career issues for technology professionals at InfoWorld. You can contact him at john@insidehpc.com.