The Week in Review

By John E. West

May 8, 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

U Bristol’s BlueCrystal a joint IBM/ClearSpeed effort;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/05/02/university-of-bristol-unveils-new-machine/

6th annual visualization challenge;
http://www.cra.org/govaffairs/blog/archives/000674.html

U of Fla researchers find new blood pressure drug;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/05/05/hpc-enables-discovery-of-new-blood-pressure-drug/

Larrabee engineer blogs confession: true love for rasterization;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/05/05/larrabee-engineer-its-all-about-the-rasterization/

8 million pixel visualization theater at the U of Houston;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/05/06/university-of-houston-builds-8-megapixel-viz-theater/

Notes from the Top500 rumor mill;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/05/06/top500-rumor-mill/

Mercury Computer Systems puts 100 GFLOPS in your palm;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/05/07/mercury-puts-100-gflops-in-your-hand/

Intel EVP announces intention to dominate HPC;
http://insidehpc.com/2008/05/07/intel-evp-confesses-dreams-of-an-hpc-future/

>>SGI and NASA: big(ger) compute

Alongside SGI’s negative earnings press release this week, the company announced a large supercomputing win with NASA. There aren’t many details related to the deal, but this system is the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Columbia replacement.

Rough system specs? The system will be an Altix ICE platform with 20,480 cores and 20 TB of memory, and will be water cooled. The move to the ICE system marks NASA’s departure from SGI’s Itanium gear.

Then, the very next day, SGI announced that it was teaming with Intel to offer NASA an even bigger system named Pleiades. The plan is to deliver a one petaflop system to NASA Ames in 2009, followed by a 10 petaflops system in 2012.

>>Sun and SGI join Cray in losing money last quarter

It’s a club that no one wants to be in, but one that seems to be increasingly popular: the “I lost shareholder money last quarter” club. Last week Cray reported losses in their fiscal quarter just ended, and this week we reported that Sun and SGI are in that club as well.

Lots of ink was spilled in the IT press over Sun’s quarterly results. Revenues for the quarter that ended in March were down $17M and came in $100M under analysts expectations, according to coverage at FT.com. Sun posted a loss of $34M after taxes, or 4 cents a share. The 3Q2007 result was a net income of 7 cents a share.

The real problem with all of this is that the Sun leadership team has been going on about 10 percent year-over-year growth (good coverage at TheStreet.com.) Sun is planning to offset the losses with a layoff of from 1,500 to 2,500 employees (from a total employee count of about 34,000).

SGI announced its Q3 financial results this week, tag teaming it with the 20,480-core NASA system announcement and then bracing it with the petaflops deal announced the very next day.

Evidently they were trying to soften the news that the company’s revenue dropped $11M from Q2, with losses widening from $30.8M in Q3 to $40.6M this quarter

One bright(er) spot was the growth of orders, which grew 50 percent year over year, and backlogs:

Backlog at the end of the third quarter of 2008 grew to $133.9 million compared to $95.8 million at the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2008, the highest backlog level in the past five quarters.

—–

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].

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