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Silicon Graphics

SGI Introduces World's Densest Server 341

Twirlip of the Mists writes "Today SGI announced the Origin 3900 server, the world's densest computer. How dense? How about 16 MIPS R14000A processors and 32 GB of RAM in a 4-rack-unit 'superbrick,' for a grand total of 128 processors and 256 GB of RAM in a single rack. That makes the new machine the densest single-system-image computer in the world; it's even denser than most blade systems. Just for fun, the server also includes a whole bunch of 64-bit, 133 MHz PCI-X slots (from 11 up to hundreds and hundreds, depending on configuration). There's coverage of the announcement on ZDNet, CNET, and InfoWorld, as well as on SGI's own site."
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SGI Introduces World's Densest Server

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  • SGI's Gettin' Some (Score:2, Insightful)

    by supergumby ( 141149 )
    Good to see a non-Intel compatible platform release something interesting these days. What we need is faster, cheaper hardware that makes sense!
    • I think the last adjective ever applied to SGI is "cheap" :) They'll make Ferrari owners feel like part of the proletariat.
    • What we need is faster, cheaper hardware that makes sense!

      The 128-processor Origin 3900 lists for $2.9 million. There's nothing "cheaper" about this. Faster, yeah; this is one of-- not "the," but one of-- the fastest computers in the world. And it's the densest. But it's nowhere near cheap.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    that's the min system spec for Office 2005! start saving now..
  • by Soporific ( 595477 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:13PM (#4643850)
    Isn't that the system requirement for the up and coming Doom III?

    ~S
  • by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) <slashdot@digitalsushi.com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:14PM (#4643855) Journal
    Now where do we find the world's densest admin to run it?
  • with the Slashdot effect, we'd see how good those processors really are :)
  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:15PM (#4643872) Homepage
    Not true.

    This record goes to Emmanuel at the little bistro on Rue de Bach just off Blvd. St. Michel in Paris.

  • Dense? (Score:2, Funny)

    by The J Kid ( 266953 )
    Stupid servers....getting denser all the time...

    ({:P for the {:P-impaired)
  • now imagine running the heaviest hardware with the lightest of the light [slashdot.org] OS...

  • As someone who has worked with blades, my first question is what they do about heat... Sure the CPU's may run a little cooler, but at that density, what keeps it from melting???
    • Not so hot (Score:2, Insightful)

      by leeet ( 543121 )
      Having the chance to work with a similar machine, I can tell you that the disk arrays (in general) will generate much more heat that the CPU bricks. The CPU bricks a very well ventilated. Hard disks RAIDS (in general) are not so well ventilated and will generate a lot of heat. Maybe they tolerate higher temperature, I don't know.. But it's good though, it keeps a part of the server room a bit warmer when you get too cold :)

      We also have a Linux rack and this will get pretty hot too. We had to move the Linux rack next to the A/C blower. I can't really say about other vendors but SGI is doing a good job at cooling their stuff.
  • D'oh!

    Or Dan Quayle dense?

    D'ohe!

  • by zmalone ( 542264 ) <wzm@@@pylae...com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:19PM (#4643915) Homepage
    Commenting on how the new Origin systems are denser then any other single image system, and then comparing them to the current blade fad to make your point is a bit silly. Blades are seperate machines (unless they are Sun, in which case they are the current desktop line), this system is a single machine. I'm not entirely certain about this density claim either, doesn't Sun fit 128 processors in a rack with the Fire 15ks?
    • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:35PM (#4644063)
      Sun fits 106 processors into a rack. They were previously the record holder. The Origin 3900 is considerably denser than the Sun Fire 15K, both in terms of processor count and PCI-X slot count-- though not at the same time, of course.

      I compared the density of SGI's system to blade systems because those are widely considered to be the densest computers in the world, with something like 90 or 100 individual one-processor computers per rack. This system is not only dense in terms of pure processor count that most-- not all, but most-- blade servers, but it's also got all the advantages of a single system image for HPC applications.
  • You'd still probably need a beowolf cluster of these things to run the future Quake 3 multiplayer server...
  • by cjsnell ( 5825 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:20PM (#4643923) Journal

    These servers are pointless in most datacenters. In order to fill one rack with this much horsepower, you would need at least two empty racks next to it to compensate for the power draw and (much) increased cooling needs. I would argue that the target market for this equipment is government labs, research institutes and universities--not usually starved for floor space.
  • by ProtoStar ( 575347 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:23PM (#4643949)
    From the ZD link:

    Procter & Gamble, for example, uses an SGI system to study the aerodynamics of Pringle's potato chips

  • With a beowolf cluster of these...

    You'd have a core meltdown that's hotter and does more damage than most nuclear weapons.

    <ducks>

  • Today SGI announced the Origin 3900 server, the world's densest computer.
    Not if it does't run a Microsoft server product.
    *ducks*
  • 17 watts! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by simpl3x ( 238301 )
    each processor consumes a reasonable amount of elecricity. why have these never been used in anything other than sgi boxen, and cobalt raqs?... neat processors along with arms of course. too bad the world is stuck in the "my processor is faster than thou" mind set. i had thought some years ago that apple would have been well off buying sgi since they have similar markets at the low end of sgi and at the high end of apple.
    • why have these never been used in anything other than sgi boxen, and cobalt raqs?

      Well Playstations (I & II) use them and they are used in many embedded systems because of the low power/decent performance characteristics. On the desktop, they were in a line of NT based workstations put out by NEC, Sony, as well as MIPS itself.
  • Density by flops? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:25PM (#4643969)
    How about we calculate density by flops or something else useful. I mean, how difficult would it be to cram a butt load of Pentiums in a rack? Yeah well how much calculation can they do?

    Lets cruise on over to the Top 500 [top500.org] and use their handy dandy html list [top500.org] to view 'most powerful chip'. This unfortunately requires a little calc work because they failed to include this number in their table.

    #1 NEC Earth-Simulator 35,860.00 GFlops using 5,120 Processors -- WOW!

    But that's only 7 GFlops per processor ... that thing is mamoth with 5,120 processors.

    Now lets look at a little different design ...

    #14 Hitachi SR8000-F1/168 1,653.00 GFlops using 168 Processors -- Hot DAMN!!

    This is more like it. They're pulling 9.84 GFlops per processor. With their architecture they could pull off the Earth-Simulator's GFlop rate with 3,645 processors - That's 28% less computer doing the same amount of work. Which means if the Earth-Simulator had been constructed with Hitachi's hardware, they could have been pulling 50,380 GFlops in the same cubic footage.

    Now this is all rambling that assumes that the processors are similar in size. Which probably isn't true. But they are also getting more power out of less hardware, and it is rare that THAT isn't a bonus. ... ramble ramble ...
    • by halfelven ( 207781 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @02:11PM (#4644367)
      Sure, if you buy a ton of second-hand peecees and glue them together in a Beowulf, you have lots and lots of flops (= CPU power).

      But the flops are not everything. The problem with clusters is the network latency when the nodes talk to each other. That latency is small for your average network application, but immense for a supercomputer trying to make all its CPUs talk together. This is why there are entire classes of problems that cannot be solved properly on clusters (non-parallelizable problems).

      As opposed to that, an SGI supercomputer has the inter-CPU latency orders of magnitude lower. Same GFlops per total (same CPU power), but certain problems are solved orders of magnitude faster.

      That's the power of latency. ;-)
    • Again though you're own evalutation falls a little short. You have little information on how much power each processor requires (in either case, NEC and Hitachi) therefore effeciency is only measurable in the context of what effecient means to the one doing the measuring. Perhaps the Hitachi chips require 10 times more power than the NEC chips... I mean hopefuly NEC wouldn't design an environmental analysis machine that is, itself, a drain on energy sources. Well it would be rather funny.
    • Note though: the SGI press release states that it only scales to 512 processors. it looks like they are having problems scaling beyond that. It is probably having to do with the interconnect and SSI approaches they are taking (at a guess).

      That means that you will see a peak of around 5 teraflops. The density is impressive for that speed. The peak performance and scalability is not. Speaking from the Supercomputing world that is. It is something to be proud of (for SGI), but if they want to take the SC world by storm they need to scale higher. The high end of machines that will be ordered over the next 5 years are going to be in the 100+ teraflop range for peak performance. (re: Blue Planet [nersc.gov])

      While most of the market does not care about the very high end systems - they can't afford them - they ARE excellent PR. Bragging rights can go a long way.

      • While most of the market does not care about the very high end systems - they can't afford them - they ARE excellent PR. Bragging rights can go a long way.

        This is so true, and it's really unfortunate. Consumers base too much of their purchases on how impressive something appears, or how they can use it to impress their clients. This is all in light of actual performance of the item in question.

        A good example is LCDs instead of CRTs on the print servers at my office. They're in public areas and they "look cool". Unfortunately, they get about 10 minutes of actual use during the day. What a waste of money.
  • these things still look cool. I have always liked how SGI boxes look....

    I would love to see an SGI server case designed by HR Geiger.

  • It's amazing that a company that is trying to survive can acomplish such an amazing breakthrough. SGI is on the edge, yet it can push their technology far beyond the competition.

    I wonder what SGI could do if it had the same number of employees Sun or IBM has.

    I think that, once again, they prove that they can provide the community with cool and kick ass products.

    Congrats SGI, this is just amazing... Other companies should follow.
    • WTF...

      Let's see who buys this and what is performs like when installed. I like the idea of single image OS.

      I doubt however it's going to make a dent in the Super Computer top 100. It sure as hell ain't going to beat that Japanese monster.

      The Japanese made an order of magnitude increase in processing power and you think this toy from SGI is leading edge? LOL

      SGI is rapidly becoming the transmeta of super computer manafacturers. There product fills a very small niche, yet all the stupid kids like you think they're so neat.

      As an aside the open critical component in a supercomputer is memory, fast memory, whith out that it matters not a jot how quickly your processors work. So what is the memory bandwidth of this baby?
      • So what is the memory bandwidth of this baby?

        12.8GB/s. What, you couldn't read the fucking product info before posting?
      • So what is the memory bandwidth of this baby?

        Aggregate, 12.8 GB/s. Actual STREAM TRIAD performance will be considerably higher than that. A 64-processor prototype system using this same architecture and Itanium2 CPUs scored the world record STREAM TRIAD benchmark back in early September. There's little argument that the Origin 3000 architecture is among the fastest architectures in the world.
      • The Japanese made an order of magnitude increase in processing power and you think this toy from SGI is leading edge? LOL

        SGI will happily sell you a 512-processor machine [sgi.com] if you want one. The innovation in the 3900 is compute power/m^3, not raw power. It just so happens that the Origin 3000 has got the raw power too.

        SGI is rapidly becoming the transmeta of super computer manafacturers. There product fills a very small niche, yet all the stupid kids like you think they're so neat.

        Don;t write them off so quickly. There are plenty of things that only an SGI can do. There are circa-1993 Indigo2's still on people's desks (being used for things like Gladiator), because even a 2002 PC can't do some of the things they can do. SGI are a niche vendor, true... but so is Mercedes.

        As an aside the open critical component in a supercomputer is memory, fast memory, whith out that it matters not a jot how quickly your processors work. So what is the memory bandwidth of this baby?

        Put it this way: internal bandwidth in an SGI workstation is 3.2Gb/s. Can your peecee do that?
  • HEAT? (Score:2, Funny)

    by IEforLinux ( 462061 )
    Sounds like this unit also would be the central heating unit for the office complex in which it resides.
  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:43PM (#4644122)
    Is this just delaying the death of SGI or signaling a new focus and niche for the company? I loved the Indy stations back in college and the O2's were amazing in their time, but most of the work those systems could do can now be done on comodity hardware, so SGI had to find a new reason to exist. Whether this system is enough to keep the grim reaper away is left to be seen.
    • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @02:09PM (#4644350)
      I can't believe this got moderated as "insightful." Crap like Indys and O2s is what put SGI in a bad place to begin with. SGI always had fantastic graphics technology and a kick-ass operating system. When they tried to sell low-end workstations-- Indys and O2s running IRIX, and all the stupid stuff with Intel machines running NT and Linux-- their net revenues went into the toilet. SGI's biggest sources of revenue have always been scientific and technical computing customers, the government, and the petrochemical/geological industries. It's when SGI de-focuses to talk about stuff like PCs with fancy cases or video servers or data mining software that they start to lose their way.

      This isn't SGI finding a new reason to exist. This is SGI going back to what has always been one of its best reasons to exist. Over time, SGI's technical lead in graphics has diminished, fueled primarily by (believe it or not) home computer games. But even now, nobody can touch SGI for high-performance scalable servers like the 3900.
      • Last time I went to a "sales pitch lunch" for SGI stuff in PA a few years ago, I realized I didn't need to buy SGI equipment to do the low-end stuff our company was doing (3d rendering, multimedia....etc). SGI was catering to the low-end and couldn't compete there. Intel and MS were more cost competitive. Needless to say, we bought nothing from them.

        The high-end scientific guys were drooling over the Origin machines....and were willing to fork out for the processing power. This should have been a clue to the SGI product planners. I think they are better reading their markets now and this type of focus may actually save SGI.

        -ted
      • I can't believe this got moderated as "insightful." Crap like Indys and O2s is what put SGI in a bad place to begin with. SGI always had fantastic graphics technology and a kick-ass operating system. When they tried to sell low-end workstations-- Indys and O2s running IRIX, and all the stupid stuff with Intel machines running NT and Linux-- their net revenues went into the toilet.

        Not quite true. After all, in 1994 an Indy had better price/performance than a comparable Pentium system... and a Pentium couldn't touch a fully loaded Indy. With better marketing, SGI could have dominated the high end 2D and low end 3D space, driving out Apple and Intergraph, and continued to hold high-end 3D. I agree that NT was a colossal mistake for them, and they aren't recovered from that mistake next.

        It's when SGI de-focuses to talk about stuff like PCs with fancy cases or video servers or data mining software that they start to lose their way.

        SGI servers are fantastic for large databases, the features that make them great for rendering and number crunching (high memory bandwidth, very fast disk I/O, single system image) can easily be applied to databases. The Origins should be wiping the floor with Sun's Fire range. It's a marketing failure, not a technology failure.

        This isn't SGI finding a new reason to exist. This is SGI going back to what has always been one of its best reasons to exist. Over time, SGI's technical lead in graphics has diminished, fueled primarily by (believe it or not) home computer games. But even now, nobody can touch SGI for high-performance scalable servers like the 3900.

        It has diminished true, but it still exists. There isn't a PC that can touch the Fuel workstation, for example.
  • by Brigadier ( 12956 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @01:47PM (#4644152)

    Anyone see the large image of this thing. It has like 10 6" Wide cooling fans. Walking by this thing will be like walking by a turbine jet engine. I cant' wait for the readers digest " Sucked in to the Origin 3000 how I survived"

    http://www.sgi.com/cgi-bin/download.cgi?/newsroo m/ press_releases/2002/november/images/origin3900_1_j pg.zip
  • Unless I'm smoking crack, RLX actually makes a chassis (with their bladed server) that is more dense than this: http://www.rlx.com/products/products_chassis.php [rlx.com]

    From their website: "The RLX System 300ex chassis holds 24 ServerBlades in 3U and supports the new ServerBlade 1200i." -- and it's even based on Linus's Transmeta chipset!

    Not sure how Sun's server can top this... somebody help me out here.

    • That's a cluster, not a single-image supercomputer. Read again the coments to this article on Slashdot, there are many explanations why a cluster, no matter how many CPUs you throw at it, will never be able to solve entire classes of problems fast enough; to do that, you need a single-image computer, like the SGI stuff.
  • by grub ( 11606 )

    The US list price for a 128-processor supercomputer with 64GB of memory is $2,937,696.

    Will they accept PayPal?

  • by greenhide ( 597777 ) <jordanslashdot @ c v i l l e w eekly.com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @02:00PM (#4644274)
    A beefed-up system with 128 processors and 64MB of memory sells for $2.9 million.

    Imagine how much the version with 128 MB must cost!
  • Woah (Score:5, Funny)

    by teslatug ( 543527 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @02:08PM (#4644346)
    Nice Rack!
  • by yoink! ( 196362 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @02:19PM (#4644421) Homepage Journal
    Check out Nvidia's data centers [nvidia.com]. Beware... windows media format warning.

    Notice how many times the word linux is used...
  • Compare this to the 1U Hammer racks that are coming out http://www.newisys.com/NewisysDataSheet.pdf
    for a 42U rack, you have 84 processors, with each processor being about two and a half times faster, SPECint2000 1202 vs. 483 and SPECfp2000 1170 vs. 495, with the Hammers in 32bit mode. Each 1U Hammer rack can contain up to 16 GB of memory, which gives a total of 672 GB of total RAM, compared to the 256GB of the Origin 3900. I also wouldn't be surprised if a 42U rack of Hammers ended up costing more like $300,000 than $3,000,000
  • Today SGI announced the Origin 3900 server, the world's densest computer. How dense? How about 16 MIPS R14000A processors and 32 GB of RAM in a 4-rack-unit 'superbrick,'.

    The server may be SGI's densest, but at least as far as processing power, it is not the densest. As a counterexample, the above configuration has four processors per unit. Many vendors sell 1U Athlon servers [hoise.com] in which each unit holds two dual Athlon systems (four processors per unit), and I can assure you that an AthlonMP 2200+ is quite a bit faster than a MIPS R14000 @ 600MHz.
    True, those two Athlon systems aren't a single server, but we're talking density here.
    Regardless, SGI does have the Athlon beaten hands down on memory per unit.

  • It seems that massively parallel computing has gone the way of the Dinosaur what with the advent of more powerful CPUs. But I read that Danny Hillis of MIT and Thinking Machines fame had built a supercomputer called the Connection Machine [barnesandnoble.com] which housed 65,536 procs each of which lived on the same wafer with dynamic ram and were arranged in a 16-dimensional hypercube array. [www.gfai.de] I don't think the old beastie had nearly as much ram as the new SGI (of course, this machine was 80's vintage). But depending on the physical size of the old box, could this have not been the world's densest computer ever?
  • I hate to be a dick, but dense(st/r) isn't a proper word. More Dense, Less Dense, Most Dense.
    It just bothers me when people use poor grammar.
  • by Admiral Burrito ( 11807 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:55PM (#4646323)

    Client:
    GET / HTTP/1.1
    Host: densestserver.sgi.com

    Server:
    Um... What's that?

    Client:
    Do you not understand HTTP 1.1?

    Server:
    Of course I do...?

    Client:
    Well then,
    GET / HTTP/1.1
    Host: densestserver.sgi.com

    Server:
    Okay... Would you like that biggie-sized?

    Client:
    wtf?

    Server:
    Oh, you want a web page. Okay, I get it now.

    Client:
    Great. Now send it, please.

    Server:
    Send what?

    Client:
    *sigh* Nevermind.

    User:
    Huh? What does "500 Server Error: Server too dense" mean?

  • by raynet ( 51803 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:36AM (#4649267) Homepage

    RLX Technologies has a server based on Transmeta Crusoe chip and it can hold 24 CPUs in 3U space, giving 336 processors per rack (and 336GB of RAM and 27TB of HDD :)

    See promo here [rlx.com]..

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