The Week in Review

By John E. West

January 25, 2008

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

>>10 words and a link

95 TFLOPS Appro system headed to Japan;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/01/22/university-of-tsukuba-selects-appro-xtreme-x/

DOE awards 265 million hours of compute;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/01/21/latest-incite-awards-at-265-million-hours/

SiCortex deskside first customer ship;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/01/22/sicortex-delivers-first-sc072-deskside/

Panasas storage first to earn designation;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/01/23/panasas-earns-intel-cluster-ready-certification/

IBM, Intel, Cisco partner on HPC center to grow mid-market;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/01/24/ibm-intel-cisco-open-hpc-center-to-help-smaller-customers/

NVIDIA working on Mac GPGPUs;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/01/24/nvidia-working-on-gpgpus-for-apple-macs/

ORNL’s new baby Jaguar;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/01/22/ornl-spawns-baby-jaguar/

>>AMD: bad news and rumors

Last week we reported on Intel’s Q4 (reminder: they made over $2B but their stock tanked; details here). AMD’s news was much more on the “leap out of a window” side of things.

AMD reported late last week that they lost $1.722B in Q4, compared to $576M in Q4 a year ago. For the year AMD lost $3.4B, compared to only $166M in 2006. You have to admire a guy that can get that kind of news and then say this:

“We were close to break-even operationally for the quarter, reducing our fourth quarter non-GAAP operating loss to $9 million. We improved gross margin by three points sequentially, driven by increased shipments of new products, higher average selling prices and cost containment actions,” said AMD CFO Robert Rivet. “We shipped a record number of microprocessor units in the quarter, including nearly four hundred thousand quad-core processors.”

I want some of what he’s taking. He’s right in the theoretical sense that the chip business did better than the numbers reflect — the loss was driven by a $1.68B write down from its ATI purchase. But that takeover of ATI is a symptom of AMD’s problems: execution, execution, and execution.

Then yesterday came news of rumors in the markets. AMD shares were up 10 percent on speculation that it would deepen its relationship with IBM. From the story in Dow Jones MarketWatch (http://tinyurl.com/2s92qg):

Analyst Krishna Shankar of JMP Securities said in a research note that the stock was “reacting positively to industry speculation regarding a more formal partnership between AMD and IBM, which may involve a strategic equity infusion or even an outright merger between AMD and IBM Microelectronics.”

IBM and AMD have relationships on chip development going all the way back to 2002 when they teamed up on new 65nm and 45nm processes. That relationship was renewed in 2004 through at least 2008.

>>Machines in far away lands

There were lots of hardware installation announcements this week, but two caught my attention in particular since they are from U.S. firms headed into countries that haven’t always been friends with the United States.

First, the China National Satellite Meteorological Center (NSMC) has deployed SGI high performance computing and storage equipment to support China’s newest polar-orbiting meteorological satellite. The resulting system ranks as the largest shared-memory computer in China, and the fourth fastest in the country. The SGI Altix 4700 is comprised of 1,280 Itanium2 cores and 4 TB of shared memory. NSMC also purchased 26 TB of SGI InfiniteStorage with CXFS.

Next up we head north where IBM is selling gear into Russia. Moscow State University (MSU) just bought a 28 TFLOPS Blue Gene/P from IBM to be used in the Department of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics. The new supercomputer is the first BG in Russia, and according to the press release “will be used for fundamental research in nanotechnology, new materials and life sciences.”

—–

John West is part of the team that summarizes the headlines in HPC news every day at insideHPC.com. You can contact him at [email protected]. Too busy to keep up? Make your commute productive and listen to the Weekly Takeout, insideHPC.com’s weekly audio news summary of the HPC news week in review.

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