Sun Amps Superclusters with Fire Link

Looking to extend its supercomputing tendrils to better serve education,
research and government facilities, Sun
Microsystems
Monday unveiled a new clustering
technology aimed at ramping up data center operations.


The Sun Fire Link interconnect, code-named Wildcat, supports throughput of 4.8 gigabytes per second and maxes out at more than a teraflop, or one trillion floating
operations per second, in a cluster of systems. Steve Perrenod, group
manager for high performance technical and computing at Sun, told
internetnews.com Fire Link is a “much more scalable cluster
interconnect to address commercial and high-performance computing
environments.”


Perrenod said the technology is targeted at improving the operations of such
high-end servers as the Sun Fire 6800 and the Sun Fire 12K and 15K, and is
capable of powering up to 800 CPUs. It does so, he said, with high-bandwidth
and low-latency to help customers build superclusters that can function as a
virtualized system capable of scaling as nodes are added — important for
data center environments where IT managers need to build on performance
capabilities.


At a time when rivals such as Cray, SGI
and IBM
are ramping up supercomputing wares, Sun claimed a few
benchmarks were broached with Fire link, including high marks for
performance with sustained 2.8 gigabytes per second bandwidth and MPI
latency rates under four microseconds. Simply, data is zipped between
servers more quickly and more bandwidth is delivered than the usual
interconnects. Among the features, Perrenod noted, is “link striping,” which
allows for up to four Sun Fire Link channels in parallel and hot-swap
components.


Sun said it will sell the new clusters as a new offering called Galaxy-class
configurations. Canada’s High Performance Computing Virtual Laboratory
(HPCVL), Germany’s Aachen University of Technology and the United Kingdom’s
Cambridge-Cranfield High Performance Computing Facility are all using Galaxy
configurations from Sun.


Dr. Ken Edgecombe, HPCVL Executive Director, said Sun Fire Link interconnect
gives researchers at HPCVL a “tremendous increase in throughput within a
wide variety of applications.”


Edgecombe attested that scalable cluster performance, as provided by Fire
Link, is important to HPCVL applications such as chemistry, economics,
mechanical engineering, physics and psychology.


In other Sun technology news, and in keeping with “pay-as-you-grow”
philosophies in harsh economic times, the firm introduced Capacity on Demand
2.0, which lowers server system costs while bolstering scalability in the
data center.


With CoD 2.0, customers can purchase Sun Fire midrange and high-end systems
configured to scale instantly, and perhaps most poignantly, at one processor
at a time. Chris Kruell, director of outbound marketing for enterprise
system products at Sun, told internetnews.com this should be
attractive to customers because competitors “charge a premium for similar
capabilities.”


With technology roots in the Sun Enterprise 10000 server, as well as the Sun
Fire 3800 through the Sun Fire 15K servers, CoD 2.0 is aimed at helping
retailers handle the holiday rush.

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