Supercomputing now dominated by X86 architecture

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Supercomputing now dominated by X86 architecture

High performance computing (HPC) may be the pinnacle of the computer speed pyramid, but not its profit pyramid.

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Some of the landmark deals in this business have been said to be a marketing expense.

Instead of putting millions into a yearly Wall Street Journal ad campaign, a similar expenditure on an IBM BlueGene or HP c-Blade supercomputer could have done a better marketing job plus the account presence.

IDC have specialised expert conferences and seminars on the topic all over the world, and held its first event here in Singapore this week.

This market, worth a total of US$10 billion and with a 10 percent growth rate, is worth keeping track of, especially since the power of these machines today will reflect what our personal computers could be doing a decade from now.

IDC segmented the market into true supercomputers (half a million US bucks or more per unit), divisional (quarter to half million), departmental (US$50K to 250K) and workgroup (below US$50K down to compute workstations).

This may vary; there are researchers with machines costing way above hundred US grand sitting by their desks, and large multi-teraflop machines on sale for not much above that.

The departmental segment -- usually small-to-medium clusters -- is the dominant one with a third of the total market value. Why? Well, with so many cores per compute node -- a typical dual-socket Xeon 5400, Xeon 5500 or AMD Shanghai machine gives you eight cores, so sixteen of such boxes in a single rack provide 128 cores altogether, plus the added management and storage node processors on top.
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