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SGI Rolls Out "Personal Supercomputers"

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the hope-they-aren't-flops dept.

Silicon Graphics 303

CWmike writes "They aren't selling personal supercomputers at Best Buy just yet. But that day probably isn't too far off, as the costs continue to fall and supercomputers become easier to use. Silicon Graphics International on Monday released its first so-called personal supercomputer. The new Octane III system is priced from $7,995 with one Xeon 5500 processor. The system can be expanded to an 80-core system with a capacity of up to 960GB of memory. This new supercomputer's peak performance of about 726 GFLOPS won't put it on the Top 500 supercomputer list, but that's not the point of the machine, SGI says. A key feature instead is the system's ease of use."

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FP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514605)

Can it be?

Man... (2, Funny)

muckracer (1204794) | about 5 years ago | (#29514623)

Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of those? :-)

Re:Man... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514727)

Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of those? :-)

Yes yes, but does it run Crysis?

Re:Man... (2, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | about 5 years ago | (#29514783)

One of these ought to be just enough to be able to run Windows Vista! ;-)

Re:Man... (1)

sajuuk (1371145) | about 5 years ago | (#29514851)

One of these running XP ought to be able to run Crysis at maximum settings.

Re:Man... (1)

chrysalis (50680) | about 5 years ago | (#29515099)

Unless, of course, it runs NetBSD.

Re:Man... (2, Funny)

Amiralul (1164423) | about 5 years ago | (#29515281)

Yes, but... does it runs Linux? Because it's official now, Linux is bloated, as Linus stated.

Re:Man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515335)

But was his statement confirmed by NetCraft? If it was, I must have missed it...

Re:Man... (2, Interesting)

EvilBudMan (588716) | about 5 years ago | (#29514785)

We'll I think there may very well be a downside to that. As this stuff gets cheaper, the ability for just anybody to figure out problems increases, and that problem could be how to make bad stuff like nukes, or worse a virus writers dream. Hey, five more years and this will be under $2,000 in the sweet spot possibly. Anyhow, I want one, but maybe they need to only let people run them that have passed a basic test on driving a computer.

Re:Man... (1)

Trahloc (842734) | about 5 years ago | (#29515097)

Naw no worries, anyone who buys one gets a free entry into the NSA/FBI/DHS/CIA/INS/ABC/CNN/CBS/PBS/NBC and even Fox databases.

Re:Man... (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | about 5 years ago | (#29515475)

Fox? Now that's really bad.

Re:Man... (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | about 5 years ago | (#29515497)

Why use this when a bot net is safer? Sure, a hell of a lot slower but with parts of the computations occurring on different machines, it would be harder to trace.

Re:Man... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515399)

Come on, you can't be serious.
Your average desktop pc is a Super-computer compared to a desktop of say 10 years ago.
Take 10 more years and every pc will be a HPC by today's standards.

Surely having access to a HPC is not the biggest problem in creating your own nuke, or figuring out any problem.
It's not like these fast computers automagicly program themselves to solve difficult problems.

Re:Man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515133)

Came for the Beowulf reference - left satisfied.

Re:Man... (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | about 5 years ago | (#29515199)

Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of those? :-)

Thank you Internet. You are predictable. And I love it.

PS3s (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514631)

Or you can save a good chunk of change and buy PS3s at $300 for 8 cores. That's 200 cores for under $8K. And open source too.

Re:PS3s (1)

jgardia (985157) | about 5 years ago | (#29514703)

You have to buy the old one, the new one doesn't run Linux (or any other 3rd party OS).

Re:PS3s (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about 5 years ago | (#29514897)

Morrow Designs had an S-100 running some sort of mini-unix in the early 80's on a Z-80.

Re:PS3s (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about 5 years ago | (#29515489)

I had Minux running on a Mac Plus a few years ago. No HD, booted from 800k floppy and then had a web server running on it. It wasn't apache, though. Can't really remember what it was. I'm not even sure if I still have this machine. Still, was a fun exercise in minimal computing. Sorta' like getting my Newton 2100 to serve web pages.

Re:PS3 (-1, Troll)

Jonas Buyl (1425319) | about 5 years ago | (#29514725)

What a typical short-sighted "hail DIY" comment. First of all, I doubt you're going to be able to fit the cores of your choice in that PS3 or slam 960GB of memory in there. It can hardly be called easy to use and I'm guessing Sony's support for your cluster is going to be disappointing as well because you're basically bankrupting them.

Re:PS3s (4, Funny)

Sique (173459) | about 5 years ago | (#29514737)

You could even go and buy Z80 compatible cores for US$ 0,95 each. That would get you more than 8000 cores for under 8K.

Re:PS3s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514741)

Could, new slimline no longer supports a GNU/Linux install.

Re:PS3s (-1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | about 5 years ago | (#29514749)

Or you could just buy this [apple.com] . For $3k plus a couple of thousand depending on how you want to configure it (it's cheaper if you add the memory and hard drive yourself from newegg), you can get a dual quad core with two ethernet ports and pretty decent graphics. You can easily link multiple ones of these through a gigabit ethernet switch and nothing in the world is easier to use or configure than a mac. I wouldn't want to build a supercomputer out of these, but you can easily build a couple node system of these. I would never actually do that of course, because macs are great high performance desktops but for clusters they just aren't cost effective. I guess it's the same with the SGI system.

On another note, it's interesting that SGI is trying this (or whoever is now using SGI's name). I say that because when I was in college I had a chance to intern at the USGS using some of the 3-D subsurface visualization software that the oil companies use, a single seat ran on a quad chip, risc system and cost $40k. (!) When I saw OS 10.0 beta for the first time and rootless X11 window manager and graphics tunneling over ssh, etc, I thought -- holy shit, this is all the neat features of that SGI on a little imac sitting on my desk. That I think more than anything else put the nail in the coffin of boutique high performance systems like what SGI built.

Re:PS3s (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29514935)

If you only need a single dual-socket board, that is obviously a superior choice. Most of the 8k price on the base model is paying for the hardware you have the option to add, not the hardware you are getting.

Assuming you actually need one of the higher end configurations, though, the mac pro isn't going to cut it. A mac pro supports 2 quad core xeons. This SGI box supports 20 quad core xeons in a box of roughly equivalent size. Not to mention that each node on the SGI box supports 3 times as much RAM as the mac pro. Not playing the same game.

That said, the two other configurations they offer (see here [sgi.com] ) seem much less useful. The "intel 2-way" configuration gives you up to 20 xeons and 960GB of RAM. That is pretty impressive power for a box of the size. The "Intel 1-way" is based on dual-core Atoms. 2GB max of RAM per node and the extremely feeble Atom seems like a very odd choice. 19 Atoms in a box of that size is pretty blah density, and for most applications you'd probably have a faster, cheaper, and easier time with a basic quad-socket board running processors that weren't designed for netbooks. The "Graphics workstation" configuration is a single dual socket workstation board. Lots of PCIe slots; but probably not worth SGI's price for a basic workstation level performance.

Re:PS3s (4, Informative)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | about 5 years ago | (#29515045)

You make some good points, the point I was trying to make is that if you're looking for a just a few nodes, that $8k price tag for the initial node is pretty steep. I noticed in TFA though that:

An Octane III with a 10 dual socket, four cores, Xeon L5520 processors, for 80 cores, 240GB of memory and integrated Gigabit Ethernet networking is priced at about $53,000.

This is actually a decent price for an 80 core system that's preconfigured. You wouldn't want to make a 10 node cluster of mac pros, you could do it easily, in fact my older system is essentially that, a bunch of independent nodes strung together over ethernet and sharing the home directory. You really don't get good scaling over the gigabit ethernet though, as least for what we're doing, so it's pretty pointless to go to more than a few nodes that way. I also noticed this as well:

Silicon Graphics was an independent company until May of last year, when it was acquired for $42.5 million by Rackable Systems Inc. Rackable subsequently changed the name of the combined companies to Silicon Graphics International Corp.

So my suspicion was right, this isn't SGI, it's a server company banking on SGI's name.

Re:PS3s (5, Interesting)

robthebloke (1308483) | about 5 years ago | (#29514979)

nah. What put the boot into SGI systems was their premature jump to Intel Itanium processors. We (the CG industry) had been quite happy spending lots of cash for these pretty blue machines with Mips processors, and then one day Sgi declared they were dropping mips for Intel Itanium CPU's. The Itanium then had problems, and so SGi hastily crapped out a new mips CPU on their Fuel [sgi.com] workstations. We didn't buy them, because we were waiting for the Itanium ones. So they switched to Intel Xeon [nitroware.net] CPU's running NT, and we didn't buy them, because as we know, the Itanium hit problems, and a dell workstation running linux was a cheaper option. Over the course of a couple of years Sgi machines literally vanished from the Cg industry.

Then to make matters worse, most of the engineers from the graphics dept of Sgi jumped ship, and all went to join Nvidia (Mark Kilgard et al). The comsumer grade Geforce cards had better OpenGL support + features than an Sgi unit at a fraction of the cost.

This is probably the only realistic comparison you can make between SGI and Apple. Apple (having seen a computer company crash and burn due to a switch to Intel) must have studied what went wrong with Sgi, and made damn sure they didn't repeat the same mistakes.... If Sgi had managed the transition as well as Apple, it would still be a powerhouse in the industry.

Re:PS3s (2, Informative)

Entrope (68843) | about 5 years ago | (#29514755)

Good luck with that -- as much as I like my PS3, the new ("slim") PS3 models come without support for Other OS installation. Sony's official statements on the subject indicate that it isn't coming back, either.

Re:PS3s (3, Informative)

GerardAtJob (1245980) | about 5 years ago | (#29514801)

Can't use it for graphics... because all Linux versions running on the PS3 have no access to RSX, the Nvidia-sourced GPU.

Re:PS3s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515183)

Sure, 200 cores for under $8k, with what, 256mb of onboard ram on each machine? Don't forget the '8 cores' aren't necessarily good for every type of solver, and you can't just drop a Linux for PPC binary on there and get direct access to the benefits of those Cell procs, there is an actual SDK from IBM that you use to develop software for those particular CPUs.

It's not a good general purpose super computer, but if you're got the time to port, and the right code, it could be worth it.

Re:PS3s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515331)

That reminds me of my trip down to IBM a while ago.

IBM guy: And we are selling these boards, that can be assembled into a supercomputer for about $1000.
Me: why would I pay $1000, when I can just rip that out of a PS3 that I buy for $600?
IBM: ... we don't talk about that.

Re:PS3s (3, Interesting)

yogibaer (757010) | about 5 years ago | (#29515361)

Or an IBM Bladecenter , where you have a choice between Intel, P6 and Cell (PS3's processor) Processor Blades (http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/bladecenter/hardware/servers/index.html) Not a lot cheaper than the SGI solution but more value for money in my opinion.

Re:PS3s (1)

DrWho520 (655973) | about 5 years ago | (#29515543)

While clusters are cool for cranking away at data, any sort of real time application would get killed by the network latency pushing and pulling data between boxes. One of these SGIs can go to 80 processors, 960 GB memory and 726 GFLOPS but how fast can you get the data you need onto the processor it needs to be on? I find more and more latency acrros network, from disk and to the processor dominates performance. How many of those 726 GFLOPS are spent waiting for data to crunch? I would guess less than in a network cluster of machines.

one swallow does not make a summer... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514633)

and one Xeon does not make a super-computer.

Re:one swallow does not make a summer... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514687)

You need to get out more; one swallow sure makes a weekend.

Re:one swallow does not make a summer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514781)

I'm a loser though. One swallow would make my decade.

Re:one swallow does not make a summer... (3, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 5 years ago | (#29515303)

African or European?

Re:one swallow does not make a summer... (1)

jgardia (985157) | about 5 years ago | (#29514735)

you can put up to 20...

Re:one swallow does not make a summer... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514895)

But two swallows and you know she's a keeper!

Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514635)

Soooo, can you put Windows on it? *ducks*

Re:Windows? (2, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29514707)

Soooo, can you put Windows on it? *ducks*

What do you think it's for?

Re:Windows? (2, Informative)

afaik_ianal (918433) | about 5 years ago | (#29514745)

I know you're joking, but from the article:

It can be preconfigured with Windows Server or its HPC Server 2008, as well as Red Hat and SUSE Linux servers.

It's no Cray CX1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514685)

A key feature instead is the system's ease of use.

But does it provide EASE OF EVERYTHING(TM) like the Cray CX1 [cray.com] ?

Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514701)

960GB out to be enough for anyone...

BTW, compared to the number in the original (640K, or 655360 bytes), 960GB (close to 1030792151040) is more than SQUARE that number (doesn't quite reach a square if measured in bits instead of bytes -- 640KB = 5242880 bits, the square of which is 27487790694400 bits or 3200GB). Nevertheless, the proportion is truly awe-inspiring.

look for the killer ap (0)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 years ago | (#29514705)

You need a killer ap in order to start getting the sale of these up to the level of a breakthrough computer product.

I say that killer ap will probably have something to do with sensory suits and porn.

If you *need* one, why not build one? (2, Interesting)

TechForensics (944258) | about 5 years ago | (#29514717)

Wouldn't most people who would NEED a supercomputer be able to build one much more cheaply using a dozen workstations? It's hard to see how this SGI system might be sold (except perhaps as a replacement for an overburdened business-office server).

Re:If you *need* one, why not build one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514833)

Or just get put on BOINC.

Re:If you *need* one, why not build one? (2, Interesting)

NoYob (1630681) | about 5 years ago | (#29514905)

Wouldn't most people who would NEED a supercomputer be able to build one much more cheaply using a dozen workstations?

Is there any networked or cabled solution that's as fast as a bus on a motherboard? Having those machines communicate with one another and syncing the computations is a lot of overhead that reduces speed and adds complexity.

I see computer animation uses for this. I also see math geeks (hobbyists) buying their own to run their current hobby project. Engineering departments using one to run simulations at a faster rate and cheaper.

It's cheaper than the Apple solution so I see movie editors using this.

You just know the gamers will jump on this!

This thing will sell like hotcakes.

Re:If you *need* one, why not build one? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515207)

The answer to your question is Infiniband, which is actually what is used in the Octane III systems.

Re:If you *need* one, why not build one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515311)

It's not really geared toward gaming.... how many games out there are capable of really taking advantage of an 80 core system? Just because you run something on a system with 80 cores doesn't mean it goes 80x faster. Rendering, math, engineering could certainly benefit from this.

Re:If you *need* one, why not build one? (3, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 5 years ago | (#29515433)

Adding to the PP: The overhead and redundant hardware involved in dozens of networked machines would also mean that, to achieve equivalent performance, you'd likely be using twice the power if not more (you might save a little if you rack them with a single PSU for the whole rack, but it's still going to use a substantially greater amount of power).

My home PC (a state of the art gaming PC as of January 2007), discounting the monitor, uses around 360 kilowatts at peak load (running one CPU and one GPU copy of Folding@Home while copying between the various disks to keep them spun up). Of that, only around 60-70 watts is the CPU, call it an even 80 once you add the memory. The GPU, motherboard, hard disks, and power supply losses eat up a lot of the rest.

If you need 80 cores worth of processing power with frequent interprocess communication, you'll need an 80 core machine, or 100-200 cores split across multiple machines. If we assume eight cores per machine, and 16 machines, if they have even half the power overhead of my machine that's going to run an additional 140 watts per box, or an additional cost of 2240 watts. Over the course of one month, that's roughly 1600 kilowatt/hours of overhead, or about $250-350 dollars of power. Every month. For the entire life of the machine (assume 10 years for a corporate or research box), that's around $36000 (remember, that's on top of the cost of the single box super computer). And that's before you factor in the cost of *cooling* the additional heat produced by the additional machines.

Don't get me wrong, there are advantages to the networked supercomputer design (redundancy and failover, the cheaper components mentioned, etc.). But there is also a place for the all-in-one super computer.

Re:If you *need* one, why not build one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515525)

360 kilowatt? Sure about that one?

Re:If you *need* one, why not build one? (2, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 5 years ago | (#29515261)

Wouldn't most people who would NEED a supercomputer be able to build one much more cheaply using a dozen workstations.

This is a simplification, but is more or less correct:

Xeon FSB width 128 bits by 1.333 GHz equals 170 Gigabits/sec bandwidth between processors.

Commodity ethernet between commodity workstations, 1 Gigabit/sec bandwidth between processors.

If your application runs on 1/170th the interprocessor bandwidth, agreed, it would be cheaper. If not, then it's not a relevant comparison.

Re:If you *need* one, why not build one? (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29515447)

Sure, you could do it with a cluster of workstations. You would need some insane interconnects. OR, you could just buy this pre-configured system from SuperMicro [supermicro.com] with dual quad-core Nehalems and 4 Nvidia Tesla C1060 [wikipedia.org] GPU Cards. That's 960 thread processors @1.3 GHz if you don't overclock, 16GB of DDR3 @ 1.6 GHz on a 512 bit bus, 16 threads of system CPU with up to 96GB of system RAM. It pulls close to 4 TFLOPS, in a desktop machine. You probably could break into the top500 [top500.org] with ten of them with decent interconnects since the #500 spot is Rmax 17.09 TFLOPS and Rpeak 37.64 TFLOPS. If you prefer a top 3 OEM, you can get that in a Z800 [hp.com] workstation from HP.

To put that in a time scale for you, that one desktop available today by itself would have easily been one of the top 100 supercomputers in the world only five years ago [top500.org] and would still have been in the top500 3 and a half years ago [top500.org] .

A little spendy for a wordprocessing and light spreadsheets, but a sweet piece of gear nonetheless.

Mac Pro Cheaper? (1)

metalcoat (918779) | about 5 years ago | (#29514719)

Hell, a Mac Pro is even cheaper with 8 cores. Who in their right mind is going to spend $8000 for a single core pc?

Re:Mac Pro Cheaper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514791)

because the Mac Pro isn't expandable to 80 cores or 960gb of ram.

Re:Mac Pro Cheaper? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#29514859)

It's not a single core, it's quad core (octal core with HT enabled), but it's still insanely expensive. I can get dual 5560's and 72GB of ram for about the same price from HP. The "loaded" system with 80 cores and 240GB of ram and low end 5520 CPU's is at least in the realm of reasonable pricing especially if it includes all the interconnect gear (I'm assuming they aren't using ethernet or else it really makes no sense to buy this).

Re:Mac Pro Cheaper? (2, Interesting)

the linux geek (799780) | about 5 years ago | (#29515009)

This just in: Dual-socket workstations are cheaper than high-end desktop blade enclosures with up to 960GB RAM. Who knew?

Cue The Egg Roll: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514757)

I've ordered a dozen for my nuclear weapons design team [bloomberg.com] .

Yours In Peace,
Kim Jong iL

Shifting Standards (2, Insightful)

seven of five (578993) | about 5 years ago | (#29514789)

I've seen the term 'personal supercomputer' so many times over the past 20 years. It's just baloney marketing. What you have on your desktop RIGHT NOW is more capable than some of the original CDC machines. So what?

Re:Shifting Standards (1)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | about 5 years ago | (#29514931)

Also i think someone who really need one of these for isn't too keen on going into Best Buy and purchasing one considering the idiot that works there.

$8000 for a single processor (0)

Lord Byron II (671689) | about 5 years ago | (#29514793)

Ouch! I never understood the need for all of this specialized "server-class" hardware when cheap-o commodity hardware and a little elbow grease works just as well. Maybe most people don't want to put the work into it, considering the huge jump in price between retail consumer and server pricing, I've never been able to justify shelling out those kind of bucks.

Re:$8000 for a single processor (2, Informative)

TerranFury (726743) | about 5 years ago | (#29514961)

Well... It's 8k, and the CPUS, according to a quick google, are ~2k apiece new (?! For one CPU?). So presumably you can get the full 80-core experience for 168k.

For comparison, a fast commodity rig might cost, I dunno, 1.5k? Times 80, and you're at 120k? So this thing, fully decked out, is possibly 40% more expensive than an equivalent commodity setup? If it's commensurately faster -- which is easy to believe as the processors are on the same mobo instead of strung across a network -- then it could be a net win to use this machine, maybe?

Anyway, it's hard to say. I'm using ballpark numbers and the results are the same order of magnitude, so it might go either way. The point is that the price doesn't seem completely absurd, at first glance at least...

Re:$8000 for a single processor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514999)

Ouch! I never understood the need for all of this specialized "server-class" hardware when cheap-o commodity hardware and a little elbow grease works just as well. Maybe most people don't want to put the work into it, considering the huge jump in price between retail consumer and server pricing, I've never been able to justify shelling out those kind of bucks.

If it's supposed to scale to 80 i7 chips on a single OS image then it's definitely not shit you'd buy at the store.

Second: Some of you think everything's easy because you've read a wikipedia article on it. Or that your average computer janitor has the skillset to setup and maintain a specialized system like this.

Re:$8000 for a single processor (5, Interesting)

walshy007 (906710) | about 5 years ago | (#29515021)

As someone who has a whole Sun Enterprise 5500 rack in his room, There is indeed a great difference between server class hardware and commodity gear, where shall we start.

Multiple power supplies, varied in number depending on your load out but hot swappable and configured as such that 1-2 of them can die before your system goes down. Along with diagnostic interface and usually visible indicators going 'part failure, replace asap'.

Same with cpus, hot swappable cpu/memory boards are a must, so long as a single cpu remains functioning the system should still run albeit at a lower capacity.

While I've already mentioned psu redundancy, the AC power outlets it uses would usually have redundancy also, with two separate connections to different circuits or ups etc.

Anyway, no commodity hardware does this, only high end, high availability stuff has this, and you will pay through the nose for it. If this octane has these features, it is very cheap for what it is.

Re:$8000 for a single processor (4, Insightful)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 5 years ago | (#29515377)

You forget service and support! Sun will make sure that for the serviceable life of your machine they will have replacement parts on hand and technical support for your machine. Imagine a commodity system looses a motherboard, will you be able to get the exact one three years down the line? And with pretty much every board maker located in Taiwan will they give you proper tech support in a timely manor? Will they ensure you get matching memory and CPU's? That's the other strong point of server class hard ware that is thoroughly supported by the vendor.

Please tell me it's not used for entertainment. (1)

professorguy (1108737) | about 5 years ago | (#29515381)

whole Sun Enterprise 5500 rack in his room

Does it run 24 hours/day (as the high availability options would suggest)? How much power does it consume? Why are you burning all that power all day?

I'm hoping for an answer like: "I'm modeling a quantum electrodynamic system at 100 hours of processing per microsecond." Or maybe "I'm trying to find a zero of the Zeta function off the critical line." Or even "I'm trying to factor a big number." Please don't tell me "It sits idle 23.9 hours a day and then I play Spacewar on it once in a while."

Although we all know the likelihood of each of these answers.

Re:Please tell me it's not used for entertainment. (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | about 5 years ago | (#29515495)

oh how about he owns his own hosting service? I know a number of people who do this and make a nice amount of cash on the side doing it, including a co-worker of mine who also designs the sites for businesses too.

Re:$8000 for a single processor (2, Insightful)

Weedhopper (168515) | about 5 years ago | (#29515125)

Ouch! I never understood the need for all of this specialized "server-class" hardware when cheap-o commodity hardware and a little elbow grease works just as well. Maybe most people don't want to put the work into it, considering the huge jump in price between retail consumer and server pricing, I've never been able to justify shelling out those kind of bucks.

I can't decide if you're a troll or an amateur. If you're the latter, I meant that in the nicest possible way.

If you don't understand that there's a difference between "cheap-o commodity hardware" and server hardware, you don't understand nearly as well as you think you do.

Re:$8000 for a single processor (0)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | about 5 years ago | (#29515139)

The only benefit that I can think of when going over the specs [sgi.com] and datasheet [sgi.com] is the fact that it can support a shipload of memory. But I agree that it's definitely not worth the 8 Gs.

Obligatory (1)

arhhook (995275) | about 5 years ago | (#29514797)

Yeah, but will it run linux?

Re:Obligatory (2, Informative)

uncle slacky (1125953) | about 5 years ago | (#29514933)

The correct question (for a supercomputer) is of course "Does it run Fortran?".

Re:Obligatory (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 5 years ago | (#29515339)

Yep. And Windows. Heck, maybe even OS X :)

[John]

Or then you could invest in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514799)

my old Pentium 2. It either won't put you on the TOP500 supercomputer list but it also is simplier.

For $100 it's all yours.

Re:Or then you could invest in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515523)

I'll give you 20 bucks.

Picture (4, Informative)

TechForensics (944258) | about 5 years ago | (#29514817)

Picture here: http://www.ubergizmo.com/tags/octane-3 [ubergizmo.com]

Re:Picture (2, Insightful)

psergiu (67614) | about 5 years ago | (#29514949)

Ugly :( Gone are the beautiful SGIs we knew. :(

Holy Bad Marketing Batman (4, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 5 years ago | (#29514821)

Who was the idiot who thought that it would be a good idea to call this the "Octane III"? This has almost no resemblance to the SGI Octane systems of that past, which were graphics workstations running Irix with MIPS processors. I think the only thing that makes them similar is the price range.

This goes right up there with Honda constantly recycling their product names; passport [wikipedia.org] , odyssey [wikipedia.org] , pilot [wikipedia.org] , and more recently insight.

Re:Holy Bad Marketing Batman (3, Insightful)

psergiu (67614) | about 5 years ago | (#29514835)

It's UGLY !!! And GRAY !!!

That's no SGI.

Remember Apple's Supercomputer Ad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29514879)

Remember Apple? In the final days of the PPC, when the thing was as slow as a turd, competitively, they ran ads proclaiming themselves a "Supercomputer".

Now, they've switched to Intel *and* reverted back to 32-bits (from the 64-bits they used to brag about, too, during the last PPC days)....and they're faster than they ever were!

Re:Remember Apple's Supercomputer Ad? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about 5 years ago | (#29515213)

I'm assuming you're a troll but I'll bite anyway, modern Macs all run on 64-bit Intel CPUs, early Intel Macs did have 32-bit CPUs though.

/Mikael

Re:Remember Apple's Supercomputer Ad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515477)

The first PowerBook G4 was considered a supercomputer legally in the US because of their retarded classification at the time (the first PB G4 hit over a GFLOPS, the State Department comes a-knockin "sorry guys, you can't sell that thing there, there, there and there", Apple uses that for marketing)

Also, considering Power/PowerPC have been 64-bit since v5 - IBM is at Power 7, the problem was not just one of lack of juice, but the inability to make laptop-ready versions of the G5; the G5 macs were pretty sweet gear - to make it short, the laptops were never 64 bit, until Core2 got out.

Yes they are (1)

stokessd (89903) | about 5 years ago | (#29514885)

"They aren't selling personal supercomputers at Best Buy just yet."

Sure they are, it just depends on what era supercomputer you are comparing that commodity computer to. A modern desktop machine is insanely fast with inconceivable amounts of ram and disk storage if you think back a couple (several) decades. Best-buy will never sell super-anything, it's not their game. But the computers we take for granted are insanely capable machines based on the problems tacked in the past by supercomputers.

Now get off my lawn,
Sheldon
(who did his master's thesis on a 16MHz machine)

Re:Yes they are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515025)

Indeed. And in another few decades, the Octane III will be an ancient mainframe that nobody wants to work with, and less powerful than a cell phone.*

*If Moore's Law keeps rolling for a while.

Re:Yes they are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515367)

More to the point, Best Buy actually does sell modern-day supercomputers, at least by SOME definitions. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security is responsible for setting export controls on items like weapons systems, supercomputers, and other stuff that they think will be used by nefarious foreigners for Bad Things (tm).

If you look at the current definition of "supercomputer" that the BIS uses, you'll find that it's pretty easily reached: in short, they think that a supercomputer is any computer capable of achieving 0.75 teraflops. That sounds like a lot, until you realize that a modern graphics card is capable of performing well over that. Unfortunately, the definition used by the BIS doesn't really account for the fact that graphics card floating-point calculations are single-precision and aren't completely standards-compliant (limited NaN and exception support, for instance)-- it just considers how many calculations are done per second.

So, by US Government standards, Best Buy has actually been selling supercomputers for a while. Crazy, eh?

Guess lightning can strike twice (3, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | about 5 years ago | (#29514909)

Isn't this basically the failed business model that put them under the first time?

Re:Guess lightning can strike twice (3, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 5 years ago | (#29515109)

that was known, internally as the WBT (wintel box thing).

I kid you not.

Good luck selling it! (-1, Flamebait)

sardaukar_siet (559610) | about 5 years ago | (#29514923)

In this economy, they're gonna need it...

Super Computer (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | about 5 years ago | (#29514985)

This is a super computer not some thing you would use for normal every day computer activities. I think it would cater more to people that are doing protein bending or other extremely processor intense activities. Most of people wanting to use one probably have access to a University or Government Super Computer so that only leaves the self-employed or small business research market. I would not be surprised if even more of these appear from other companies because that market is one of the few that is growing.

Why? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 years ago | (#29515023)

What will a home user do with an 80 core, 1TB RAM sysetm? Ray tracing? Protein folding? Local weather prediction? All things really high on the list for personal computers.

Still, you'd never need to heat your house again.

Re:Why? (1)

the linux geek (799780) | about 5 years ago | (#29515283)

Its not a PC, its a workstation. How many home users are going to shell out $8k for a base configuration?

Re:Why? (1)

walshy007 (906710) | about 5 years ago | (#29515321)

What will a home user do with an 80 core, 1TB RAM sysetm? Ray tracing? Protein folding? Local weather prediction? All things really high on the list for personal computers.

I'm not sure about you, but my most immediate thought would be to simulate an extremely complex neural network, likely easily using over half the ram on that task. Combine that with coding an infrastructure for it to learn patterns well from a source of input like a webcam, and hilarity ensues.

If it could get to be of about the intellect of a small bird that would be awesome, but even if it is a spectacular failure and nothing valuable is produced, it would be awesome :)

Re:Why? (4, Funny)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | about 5 years ago | (#29515423)

What will a home user do with an 80 core, 1TB RAM sysetm? Ray tracing?

Sometimes I need a giant mirrored ball as a pick me up when I'm down, or a photo-realistic digital recreation of a bowl of fruit. What's wrong with that?

Protein folding?

They're not going to fold themselves.

Local weather prediction?

I don't trust the NWS, though. I generally try to run my own weather models at home every morning before leaving for work. I have to do something with these petabytes of NASA satellite data.

they can keep up (2, Funny)

Tim4444 (1122173) | about 5 years ago | (#29515057)

Aw crepe, if these become commonplace M$ might rewrite Windows using dot net, and of course Sun would write a knockoff in Java. By then Linux will have 8 different windowing toolkits necessary for the basic apps and 29 sound systems. Oh well, I guess it's back to 0x7C00...

Better options (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515065)

Are a Tesla with a zillion GPU cores, and some others if you don't mind some programming. In MFLOPS/$ they kick this thing's butt. I'm not familiar with other options than CUDA, there's only so many hours in my day, but gosh, that looks like a much better deal, and of course can be put on a killer Intel Mobo anyway -- and you have both.

Here, I run on solar power though, and the cost of running even one big NVIDIA card in a hot mobo is such that it doesn't run much, so my criteria would be flops/watt hour. The thing is noisy and you could probably cook eggs on the case or in the exhaust air stream. On the other hand, if you're say training neural nets or other real compute bound job, it beats having to keep a cluster up and running by a mile.

Despite the prevailing skepticism here, this is... (2, Interesting)

mmell (832646) | about 5 years ago | (#29515073)

a supercomputer chassis. Not unlike getting an IBM BlueGene with ONE cell processor on ONE card in ONE unit on ONE rack. I suppose it's still a 'supercomputer' (since nobody's really defined what a supercomputer is). The architecture is there for true, multiprocessor multithreading in a highly scalable framework. Way cool!

Then again, I'm buying up Marvel SheevePlugs as fast as I can afford 'em. With built-in 1000TX networking and a Kingston SOC chip delivering approximately the same performance as a 1GHz Intel CPU, I figure I can network 'em together and have a scalable (Beowulf) supercomputer for a lot less money and only a modest investment in elbow-grease. The uBoot environment is already smart enough for TFTP boot and root over NFS (which is how IBM does the magic, IIRC). All I need is a monotasking kernel to serve to my nodes and I'm in business. For now, I'll settle for the standard Linux 2.6 kernel and take the modest performance hit.

nice pricetag! (0)

nimbius (983462) | about 5 years ago | (#29515225)

did this company forget the economic recession entirely? no one can afford to buy this.

Erwin? (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | about 5 years ago | (#29515299)

So, SGI is finally putting Erwin into *real* SGI machines?

Less than 500. Compare with Xserve. (1)

mattr (78516) | about 5 years ago | (#29515327)

Bottom of the Top500 as of June is about Max 17 Tflops, Peak 37 Tflops. So if this is really 0.6 Tflops well... maybe one of these would make one node of a many-noded supercomputer.

Interesting to compare to a rack of Apple Xserves [apple.com] . Each rack is 8 cores (same cpus as the Octane III it seems). Again about $50k for 80 cores. Looks like sgi is aiming at that segment.

Can anybody with Xserve experience say how these would compare? I see Apple has something called Xsan too.

octane, we're going to rock-tane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29515493)

that thing called octane,
it swings with performance...

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