Curious about the vendor mentioned in the story about the new computers used by Royal Military College of Canada aircraft engineers, I pointed by browser to Maynard, MA-based SiCortex. I’m glad I did…
Befitting the affinity many scientists and researchers have to the open source movement, the firm’s HPC “systems run standard Linux, rooted in the Linux 2.6 kernel, from linux-mips.org, continually updated.” But the OSS love doesn’t end there, the systems makes of the Lustre parallel file system along with an extensive array of open source tools, nearly all of which have freely available source code.
Yet, software is only part of the story; the hardware tells the rest. In order to ween organizations from power-hogging clusters, you’re gonna have to back your pitch up with some compelling specs like those of SiCortex’s flagship, the SC5832 pictured above:
The SiCortex 5832 is the first and only computer system of the 21st century to pack Top500 performance onto a single backplane. It offers 5,832 1.4GFlops 64-bit processors, each dissipating just 900 milliwatts of power. All interprocessor communications logic plus two DDR-2 memory controllers and PCI Express I/O logic are on the same node chip with the multiple processor cores. Complete with its 8 Terabytes of system memory, the SC5832 fits in a single cabinet and only requires around 20 kilowatts of wall power.
Now, the Reuters story was a little vague on just what system are in play here, though the title mentions PCs. The most PC-like offering is the SC072-PDS Deskside Development System, which is nothing to sneeze at either harnessing “the power of 72 processors while using less electricity than a typical PC” while operating on a 100-percent open source platform.
Boston.com has a video of the SiCortex’s CEO, Christopher Stone, explaining the architecture that underpins their systems, which is embedded after the break. Caution, the video auto-starts, so I hope you have your speakers turned down/off.