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Comment Numalink vs. infiniband. (Score 1) 159

If you look at the history of infiniband, it was always intended to be something like numalink+xio. Origionally you were supposed to connect peripherals, storage, and processor nodes onto this big network and add and remove them all dynamically. It got scaled down from that, and now is pretty much used as a high-speed network, with the occasional RAID attached directly to it. Numalink can be used in this way too. One does not need to make a single numa domain from an altix.

The numalink chip also has the extended cache directory logic in it, which allows large numa machines. Importantly, that version of large is large on the scale of numa database servers, but rather small on the scale of supercomputers. Even SGI has to fall back to infiniband for the really large machines, such as the two big systems at nasa. It's not as feature-rich as numalink, but it'll scale to tens of thousands of nodes, sorta affordably. I should note that there's no reason that the cache director chips can't talk to one another over an infiniband network. Noone has invented this chip, but the network can be an independant piece.

I agree that SGI has long had great technology, and useful products. (I reserve the term great products, as they have tended to have great strengths coupled with great weaknesses) But I would not say that their products have been successful. If they had, SGI wouldn't have been circling the bowl for the last ten years. SGI learned how to make a lot of money when they were at the top of a growing market. They never learned how to make money in a shrinking market, or how to transition to a profitable spot in a different market.

Comment I think you are mistaken about lustre. (Score 1) 159

actually, I know you are mistaken about lustre. Lustre is a regular kernel filesystem just like CXFS, stornext, GFS, or GPFS. In the case of puma or bluegene you have to link it into the application, but not on linux. The point, however, remains. SGI has used CXFS to sell its hardware, which was awesome at the time, but it limits the ability of rackable to make a business out of selling CXFS as a stand-alone product. IDeally you would want to sell CXFS licenses on every commodity cluster out there, your own, or the competition. Sun has that now, with lustre. Lustre is run on IBM clusters, HP clusters, even SGI clusters. I doubt rackable could turn CXFS into that product and displace lustre from very many machines.

Comment Innovators dillema. (Score 1) 159

SGI has long suffered from the classic theme of the innovator's dilema. They invented really cool graphics technology in the 80s and early 90s. It performed very well, but they charged an enourmous amount of money for it. Along comes the first generation of 3D graphics cards for PCs. At that point, SGI had the option of putting out a top notch PC graphics card. They could have become a dominant player in that market. Some business unit at SGI would sit in the place now occupied by nvidia. That's hard to do, as the graphics card division would undercut sales from the workstation division. However it's better to be undercut by an internal competitor than an external one.

Comment Re:"little cooler than an SGI workstation..." (Score 4, Informative) 159

This is why SGI finally fell apart; you guys are all talking about SGI workstations. SGI hasn't been in the workstation business for years. There hasn't been a workstation business for years. HP,IBM,Sun sell workstations, but they are just rebranded PCs. Dec,DG,EnS,Intergraph,Appalo: all defunct.

Lately SGI has been selling low-end HPC clusters and a few mid-range altix machines. (and one really big one at nasa) The HPC business is a really difficult place to make money. SGI has never been good at keeping their operating costs down. Compared to their competition, they always seemed to employ a lot of people, and have a lot of irons in the fire, most of which never panned out.

SGI has always loved to engineer their way around problems; In a mature market one makes money by engineering a solution to a problem and then licensing it out to the rest of the world until it becomes an industry standard. Numalink could have been what infiniband is now. Infinitereality could have been what geforce is now. CXFS could have been what lustre is. XIO could be PCIe. SGI wanted to control it though. They tried to keep it all under the tent.

Comment Re:It's real (Score 1) 159

I'm sure they're not picking up the debt. Rackable doesn't have the assets to pick up that debt. They are picking up the company for essentially nothing, but SGI has lost money every quarter for years. So they can expect to take on those loses for at least a couple of quarters. They won't owe the creditors, but they still have to pay some sort of severence to all the people they let go, and figure out how to do something with SGI's customer list and try to turn it into new rackable business.

There are valuable parts to SGI. The CXFS/DMF business is valuable all by itself. Numalink is a good technology, but rackable isn't really in a possition to productize it in a profitable way; I'm not sure who they could sell/license it too either. Apart from that, they are buying the customer list, the sales team, and a few government contracts.

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