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December 14, 2007

The Week in Review

by John E. West

Here is this week’s collection of highlights, selected totally subjectively, from the HPC news stream as reported at and HPCwire.

>>10 words and a link

Iran claims 860 GFLOPS Opteron super, AMD denies wrongdoing;

AMD pulls all SPEC Opteron results, raises peak power figures;

Transistor turns 60, Intel cuts cake;

Green Grid announces first annual meeting, wraps up plugfest;

BlueArc moves in at Brookhaven;

SiCortex rounds up more cyclists, this time for fusion calculations;

Bull and IBM strengthen OEM, R&D relationships;

>>SGI introduces life sciences solution

SGI announced this week that it’s releasing a new product targeted at the life sciences market. The SGI BioCluster is an SGI Altix XE that comes preconfigured with PBS Pro and the eXludus Grid Optimizer for boosting job throughput “through its unique real-time job schedule optimization technology.”

SGI is building on a wave of recent announcements using its technology in this field, including this one:

According to the release (, BioCluster is available right now:

The system can be purchased with a 1, 2, or 3-year license, or as a 90-day trial version. The SGI BioCluster with the 64 Intel Xeon processors is the recommended configuration for high performance results. The system can also be configured with 16 or 32 processors.

This vertical market solution customization is turning out to be a popular marketing strategy among HPC vendors as they jockey to grab chunks of the mid-market HPC business that all the kids are talking about these days. Market-specific products allow customers in these new markets easy entry into the world of HPC. For example, LNXI has long had such a strategy with their application-tuned platforms targeted to specific markets like energy and aerospace.

>>Idaho National Laboratory Opens HPC Center

The Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory has announced the opening of its high performance computing center. The new HPC center’s primary role will be providing modeling, simulation and visualization capability for reactor development, thus furthering the INL goal of becoming the nation’s leading nuclear energy research laboratory. From the release (

“INL’s new Computing Center will be a key tool as the lab continues to lead the way in the design and development of next generation nuclear reactors to provide safe, emissions-free nuclear energy in the United States,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Shane Johnson said. “Advancements in nuclear technology will help spur the expansion of nuclear energy to meet growing energy demand around the world.”

The Computing Center is initially configured with 3,700 sq. ft. of raised floor space and was designed with efficiency in mind – for example, the backup generator is capable of using 15 percent biodiesel. INL’s first machine is ranked at #64 on the TOP500 (it’s a 2048 processor SGI Altix ICE 8200.).

>>OpenSPARC T2 GPL’d

Yes, I have decided that GPL can be a verb.

Sun announced its newest foray into openness (

Sun Microsystems Inc. today delivered on the commitment it made in August by providing the OpenSPARC T2 RTL (register transfer level) processor design to the free and open source community via the GPL license. The OpenSPARC T2 processor is based on the UltraSPARC T2 processor, the world’s fastest commodity processor with eight cores and eight threads per core running the Solaris 10 Operating System (OS).

The T1 was the first “major” processor design to be open sourced in 2005, and since the launch of the OpenSPARC T1 in 2006 over 6,500 copies of the spec have been downloaded for that chip.

Sun also announced that five major universities are now official OpenSPARC Technology Centers of Excellence. More details are revealed in the release.


John West is part of the team that summarizes the headlines in HPC news every day at You can contact him at