September 14, 2007

The Week in Review

by John E. West

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

>>10 words and a link

Add South Korea to the list of companies suing Intel;

NASA adds 4k core SGI ICE system;

Online gaming adopts low latency HPCs developed on Wall Street;

Presidential advisors release report on Federal networking R&D;

NASA chips run over 1,700 hours at 500 degrees C;

FSU gets a Dell;

Voltaire teams on domain HPC box;

ROCKS “Office Hours” User Support;

>>AMD finally launches Barcelona

There was a lot of coverage of what has been characterized as a “make or break” launch this week by AMD of their long-awaited quadcore Opteron chip, Barcelona.

The chips are six months late and a few hundred MHz short, but better late than never I always say. It’s reasssuring to know that hype didn’t die when Clinton left the White House; AMD is immodestly referring to their new chip as “The World’s Most Advanced x86 Processor.” Time will tell. Early indications are that the new chips best the currrent crop of Intel Xeons in memory bandwidth and performance per watt. AMD also touts the new Opteron’s floating point performance, but Jon Stokes at Ars Technica thinks the chip’s FP muscle may fall short of expectations:

…Xeon’s bandwidth bottleneck isn’t nearly so pronounced in two-socket configurations as it is in four-socket configurations, so at two sockets the two processors’ respective floating-point ALUs can duke it out on a relatively more level playing field. In this scenario, Xeon’s superior floating-point and vector hardware carries it, and gives it the 3D rendering scores that match and beat Barcelona’s.

Find Jon’s article at

In any case, Intel will respond soon with its 45nm Penryn processors.

>>Vendors respond to Barcelona launch

Vendors took advantage of all the extra planning time they had courtesy of Barcelona delays to make sure they had their Barcelona products all lined up and ready to go. And they spent this week announcing them. In no particular order, here are the most relevant ones I saw along with links to product details:

>>Rumor: Rambus and Sun

Recall the last time I posted a Sun acquisition rumor (, it turned out to be way wrong. You’ve been warned.

The business journals are reporting this week on speculation that Sun is warming up to buy Rambus (

Shares of Rambus Inc. rose more than 6 percent Wednesday on speculation that a takeover may be on the table. Los Altos-based Rambus (NASDAQ:RMBS) closed the day at $16.71 after going as high as $17.15. One of the potential suitors cited by traders and analysts was Santa Clara-based Sun Microsystems Inc. (NASDAQ:JAVA).

Who’s Rambus? As stated on their website, “Rambus is one of the world’s premier technology licensing companies specializing in the invention and design of high-speed chip interfaces.”

>>Sun sets on CFS

Several weeks ago we had the announcement ( that CFS was moving its commercial Lustre implementation to use ZFS as a backend.

This week the other shoe dropped as Sun bought the whole company, lock, stock and barrel. Read the press release at

It will be interesting to see what impact this has on Sun’s competitors who also offer Lustre (IBM comes to mind, for example). Will they find something else or let a big part of their business success depend upon Sun? Probably not that last one.


John West summarizes the headlines in HPC news every day at You can contact him at Too busy to keep up? Make your commute productive and subscribe to the Weekly Takeout,’s weekly podcast summary of the HPC news week in review.

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