SGI unveils modular design for new high-end computer

SGI unveils modular design for new high-end computer

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

JULY 25—SGI's newest high-end servers and graphics computers are built out of bricks.

That's what the Mountain View, Calif., company has dubbed the modular components of its new Origin 3000 and Onyx 3000 systems, which it unveiled today.

The computers use non-uniform memory access, in which clusters of processors share local memory. The company calls its technology NUMAflex modular computing, said Ben Passarelli, SGI's director of advanced systems product management.

SGI gave the bricks, which are 19-inch-wide rackmount units, initials corresponding to their function. For example, the C-brick, which holds the CPUs, contains from two to eight Mips R12000 or R14000 processors with up to 8G of synchronous dynamic RAM. The I-brick contains input-output interfaces.

By adding bricks of different types, users can customize their machines for specific applications such as computational fluid dynamics, signal processing or media distribution, Passarelli said.

The systems contain from two to 512 processors, but eventually the company will expand their capacity up to 2,048 processors, Passarelli said. The systems come with 16G to 1T of memory and run SGI's proprietary Irix 6.5 operating system.

SGI's new computers are successors to the Origin 2000 and Onyx 2000 product lines. Two of the federal government's 10 fastest computers, the Blue Mountain and Nirvana systems at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, are Origin 2000 systems.

List prices for the Origin 3000 range from roughly $20,000 for a two-processor system to $40,000 for an eight-processor system, Passarelli said. Prices for systems larger than 128 CPUs will be determined through bidding.

Contact SGI Federal at 301-572-1980.

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