Fujitsu Dives Into High-Performance Computing


Intel’s Itanium 2 chip is getting a shot in the arm by Fujitsu Computer
Systems (FCS), which unveiled a high-performance computing server based on
the much-maligned processor.


Designed to compete with systems from IBM and HP , the new PrimeQuest server line runs Windows and Linux. FCS said
the machines will be used to power large databases and process online
transactions.


Officials of the Sunnyvale, Calif., Fujitsu subsidiary showed off the
PrimeQuest 440 and 480 machines at a launch event in San Francisco. FCS was
joined on stage by executives from Intel, Microsoft, Red Hat and Oracle.


The vendors agreed to support FCS’ goal to grow its high-end server market share to 15 percent. FCS aims to sell 10,000 PrimeQuest systems for roughly $2 billion in revenues over the next three years.


The move should also boost the Itanium chip line, abandoned by IBM and orphaned
by HP, which sent it back to Intel to produce alone.


The 440 runs 16 1.50 gigahertz Itanium 2 (Madison) chips, while the 480 is a
32-way system running 1.60 GHz Madison chips. Both systems run Red Hat
Enterprise Linux 4, Novell/SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 and Windows Server
2003 Datacenter and Enterprise for Itanium.


The PrimeQuest systems boast up to eight isolated partitions, with each one
being an independent “server” within the system. This creates a high level
of fault tolerance, because if one machine stops working, the others continue
to operate. Such capabilities are prized by financial organizations, whose
transaction systems must run at all times.


For example, Richard McCormack, senior vice president at Fujitsu, said on a
webcast of the event that a stock exchange that wants to run with 100
percent availability would be able to take the system board, break it into
two and simultaneously run two separate sets of memory, crossbars and
chipsets within the one platform at the same time.


McCormack also said FCS has employed new technology called “flexible I/O”
(FIO) in the PrimeQuest products. FIO allows the machines to automatically
redirect input/output resources to different partitions in case
of a system failure.


The executive cited a billing application example. By day, a PrimeQuest can
run a billing process, with another doing order entry. In the evening, users
can reconfigure the partitions automatically while the system is online,
increasing or decreasing I/O in each partition, McCormack said.

McCormack said Fujitsu will pump $300 million into Itanium over the next few
years. But the server maker will need broad support for the PrimeQuest line
as it tries to overtake IBM and HP in the server market. IBM gave up on
Itanium, opting to drop support for the chip with its X3 chip-set
architecture.


At the same time, the company must continue to nurture its tight server
relationship with Sun Microsystems, whose Sparc64 V chip architecture is
used to power Fujitsu’s PrimePower servers. Fujitsu also has to tend to its
Primergy line, high-volume Intel servers that span from one to eight
processors.


Fujitsu officials said they did not anticipate this will be a problem
because the PrimeQuest line addresses different markets than the Primergy
and PrimePower lines. All of the machines fall under a strategy Fujitsu
calls Triole, which aims to virtualize, automate and integrate servers with
storage and middleware to provide a utility computing environment.


PrimeQuest will be available on Linux in June, with Windows Server 2003 versions to come in September.

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