New Solutions Extend SGI’S Drive to Advance Grid Computing

By Nicole Hemsoth

March 14, 2005

Building on its long history of innovation in Grid computing, Silicon Graphics announced that it continues to drive new advances in the rapidly growing Grid movement with several new compute, storage and visualization products. Recent SGI product introductions mark the latest in SGI's long track record of contributions to Grid computing standards bodies and at university, government and commercial sites.

“SGI technologies and development efforts have been decisive in shaping some of the most important innovations in Grid computing, and many of the world's largest Grid installations are powered by SGI,” said Walter Stewart, business development manager for Grid at SGI. “Our vision of the Grid is to give universal access to resources capable of processing, managing and interacting with big data. With every new product introduction, we push that vision even further, revealing how the benefits of Grid stretch far beyond shared compute cycles. The result is a collaborative environment that crosses platforms, organizations and geographies.”

SGI technologies provide the enabling infrastructure that underlies Grid computing. With more than two decades of experience solving the world's most challenging compute problems, SGI products enable users to run applications addressing terabyte-class data sets across multiple locations. SGI computer systems, visualization, storage systems, networking technologies and software provide the foundation for Grid as an intelligent infrastructure for discovery.

Most recently SGI extended its line of Linux OS-based servers with the new factory-integrated SGI Altix 1350 and SGI Altix Hybrid Cluster, both of which bring exceptional flexibility and scalability to any computing environment. SGI also recently unveiled the SGI InfiniteStorage Total Performance 9700 (TP9700) RAID storage array, the industry's first Fibre Channel storage array equipped with 4 Gb/s interfaces. And in October, SGI introduced Silicon Graphics Prism, the world's first truly scalable Linux visualization system.

“The compute, visualization and data management resources supplied by SGI have reinforced the University of Manchester's position as a major Grid resource center the U.K., Europe and beyond,” said Terry Hewitt, deputy director of Manchester Computing and head of research support at the University of Manchester. “We are a world-leading resource center on the Grid not only because we have SGI technology, but also because it is combined with the enthusiasm and support of the company and its staff. This has allowed us to provide a real capability to users regardless of their location. SGI and its Grid solutions have made a significant impact on the quality and quantity of science and research performed in the U.K.'s eScience projects.”

A Long History in Grid

As a recognized leader in high-performance computing and advanced visualization, SGI has been involved in Grid computing from the movement's earliest days. At Supercomputing '97, exhibitors saw the first public demonstration of Grid technology—one exclusively powered by SGI. SGI systems and software also served as the platform for initial development of the important Globus Toolkit, a reference implementation that supplies the software building blocks for many Grid implementations. In addition, SGI is a Platinum sponsor of the Global Grid Forum.

Working closely with Intel and other technology leaders, SGI is focused on addressing four primary challenges of Grid computing:

  1. Increase system and application scalability. The largest problems consistently push the limits of available technologies. Different problems may require different programming models for the best solution.
  2. Enable high-speed data sharing between heterogeneous systems.
  3. Improve Grid security.
  4. Allow remote visualization with compressed output from high-value, real-time visualization systems delivered to any display device on the Grid.

That focus, underpinned by breakthrough SGI technologies, has resulted in the adoption of SGI systems in almost all of the world's major technical Grid installations, including:

  • The University of Manchester, through its award-winning TeraGyroid project, has enabled a major leap forward in simulating such soft condensed matter as biological samples, gels and foams. Part of the RealityGrid initiative, TeraGyroid is one of more than 50 eScience and Grid projects under Manchester's direction, and much of its U.K. national Grid efforts are driven by SGI technology.
  • Cambridge University's COSMOS consortium project, which has established a Grid solution for testing mathematical models of the universe. The Grid is powered by an SGI Altix 3000 server, an SGI Onyx visualization system, a 10TB SGI InfiniteStorage RAID system with CXFS shared filesystem and Data Migration Facility (DMF), and a Visual Area Network (VAN) that allows anyone on the Grid to access data visualizations.
  • SARA Computing and Network Services, the Dutch national supercomputing center, allows researchers throughout the SARA Grid to share resources in the pursuit of breakthroughs in the study of climate, medicine, water management, water quality, fluid dynamics, computational chemistry, and genomics. The Grid employs an SGI Altix 3000 system, an SGI Origin system, CXFS, and a VAN enabling more users to visualize research results.

To read a more in-dpeth interview with Walter Stewart, see the article “Walter Stewart on SGI's Role in Ever-Evolving World of Grid” in this issue of GRIDtoday.

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