Fourth Quarter Sees Company Unveil SGI Altix ICE System as Altix XE and Storage Solutions Gain Momentum with Customers
The company's fourth quarter, which ended June 29, was SGI's first fiscal quarter under the leadership of Bo Ewald, who was named CEO in April. Working with SGI's leadership and global workforce, Ewald has focused on positioning SGI for sustainable long-term growth and innovation through delivery of uniquely competitive, customer-focused solutions.
New products and industry alliances
In June, SGI unveiled SGI(R) Altix(R) ICE 8200, the first in a new line of bladed servers designed to close the growing gap between performance and user productivity. Built to accommodate large and varied scale-out workloads, SGI Altix ICE delivers the advantages of blade computing without forcing users to accept compromises in price/performance, power and space efficiency, reliability and manageability. Its ultra-dense rack architecture delivers up to 40 percent more compute performance per floor tile than competing blades. Meanwhile, the Altix ICE system's highly efficient design minimizes demands on the data center's space and power, helping to relieve the growing burden of housing, powering and cooling today's HPC systems.
Also during the quarter, SGI joined the BioIT Alliance, a group of organizations working together to realize the potential of personalized medicine. The Alliance unites SGI with other innovators in the pharmaceutical, biotech, hardware, and software industries to explore new ways to share complex biomedical data and collaborate among multi-disciplinary teams to speed the pace of discovery in the life sciences.
Major NASA acquisitions and contracts
In August, NASA turned to SGI to acquire the world's largest shared-memory supercomputer as part of NAS Technology Refresh (NTR), a four-phase evaluation and procurement process that eventually will replace the Columbia supercomputer system, powered by SGI(R) Altix(R). Installed in August at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., the new system is the first supercomputer to operate 2,048 Intel(R) Itanium(R) 2 processor cores and 4TB of memory under a single copy of Linux(R) OS; as such, it is the largest Linux single system image (SSI) in the world. NASA also acquired two ultra-dense SGI(R) InfiniteStorage 10000 systems totaling 240TB to efficiently handle the massive data storage requirements.
Separately, SGI was again named a prime contract holder for a multi-billion dollar U.S. Government IT purchasing program, also administered by NASA. Under the seven-year NASA Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) IV Program, every product SGI sells is available to NASA and other U.S. Government agencies at prices published on the SEWP IV schedule. The purchasing program represents total procurements that could reach as much as $5.6 billion through April of 2014. The program involves 37 Competed Prime Contract Holders offering a wide range of IT products. SGI is the only Contract Holder to win a Class 4, High-Performance Compute Servers, contract.
Customers embrace new SGI Altix ICE systems
Just weeks after its June launch, SGI reports brisk sales of its new SGI Altix ICE platform. Among the customer wins were:
-- French oceanographers expect to make waves throughout the world, now that IFREMER, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, has a acquired an SGI Altix ICE 8200 blade cluster powered by 256 Intel Xeon cores and a 16TB SGI(R) InfiniteStorage 4500 system. IFREMER chose the SGI solution over competing clusters from IBM, HP, Sun, Dell and Bull for several reasons: SGI's ability to deliver excellent performance-per-core and on the institute's many scientific codes; increased reliability on the SGI Altix ICE system due to a design allowing for fewer cables; SGI's deep expertise in HPC; and SGI's reliance on industry-standard components, including Intel Xeon processors and SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 from Novell. Installed in August, the new SGI cluster and storage solution will allow researchers to work efficiently with ever-larger data volumes as they run a variety of applications, including WaveWatchlll, MARS, OPA, HYCOM, CORIOLIS. -- The University of Exeter purchased a 128-core, 16TB SGI Altix ICE 8200 system to simulate the formation of stars and planets. The Altix ICE blade system's pre-installed software allowed Exeter's theoretical astrophysics team to get their new system up and running the same day it arrived. The university reports that achieving productivity so quickly on such a powerful system helped to realize a rapid return on investment. In fact, based on the performance of the system since it was installed at Exeter in June, researchers expect to reduce the time to it takes to complete a detailed simulation of a massive hydrogen field from a year to only six weeks. -- The Center for Parallel Computing (NACAD) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ) acquired a new SGI Altix ICE system and SGI InfiniteStorage solution to drive engineering, scientific, database and data mining applications. UFRJ researchers are leveraging the SGI deployment, which will augment existing SGI solutions and is expected to be installed in September, to solve a wide range of problems: simulating environmental impacts in the Amazon, understanding the effect of waves in offshore production platform, characterizing reservoirs, clustering analysis, and conducting complex OLAP queries. The new SGI Altix ICE system is powered by 152 Intel(R) Xeon(R) cores and 304GB of memory. UFRJ also upgraded its SGI(R) Altix 450 system to a configuration with 32 Intel Itanium 2 processor cores and 64GB of memory. The SGI systems, which run SUSE(R) Linux Enterprise Server 10 from Novell(R), are backed by an expanded 32TB SGI(R) InfiniteStorage 4050 network attached storage solution. UFRJ selected the SGI solutions over offerings from IBM, HP, Sun and Bull.
Growing momentum for Altix XE
SGI also extended its reach into key vertical markets and geographies with solutions built around Intel Xeon processor-based SGI(R) Altix(R) XE clusters. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007, those wins included:
-- Miller Brothers Retail Ltd., a specialist electrical retailer selling more than 15,000 products and accessories, invested in an SGI Altix server solution to drive its PostgreSQL as part of a strategic move to conduct most of its business over the Internet. A lack of in-house expertise in deploying PC clusters prompted Miller Brothers to seek out a single system capable of handling its database, while enabling a fast and seamless installation to avoid impacting its fast-growing business. (In addition to selling electrical products via its own Web site, the company operates "white label" sites on behalf of several large partners, including Wal-Mart subsidiary Asda, one of the UK's largest supermarket chains.) To meet those needs, Miller Brothers purchased an SGI Altix 450 mid-range server with eight Intel Itanium 2 processor cores. To meet the company's tight timescales, SGI configured and shipped the system within 24 hours, and it was fully operational the very next day. Miller Brothers reports that its new SGI Altix 450 system has paid unexpected dividends: the additional power and scalability of the Altix platform has allowed the company to add more trading partners than it had originally planned, and Miller Brothers is generating new business as a result. -- Les Taxis Bleus (Blue Taxi), the leading cab company in Paris, is moving its Oracle software-based order processing and reservation management system to a new SGI Altix XE server and SGI(R) InfiniteStorage solution to guarantee fast, reliable service to taxi customers 24 hours a day. The company serves as a booking center for more than 3,000 independent cab drivers throughout Paris and the Paris Region. Transaction processing and radio communications are administered via a four-core SGI(R) Altix(R) XE240 server equipped with 8GB of memory and running Red Hat(R) Enterprise Linux(R) v.4. The system taps an Oracle 10g database and 1TB of SGI(R) InfiniteStorage 220 direct-attached Fibre Channel storage, which neutralizes infrastructure bottlenecks that might otherwise impact service delivery and customer satisfaction. The entire configuration is repeated in a replicated configuration that backs up the primary system. Processing some 40,000 calls and transactions a day, Les Taxis Bleus relies on the SGI solution to work non-stop, day and night. -- Vanguard Animation, to successfully create and complete the computer- generated feature film Space Chimps, purchased 10 SGI Altix XE310 servers with 64GB RAM and four Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors running Red Hat Linux Fedora Core 5 and PipelineFX Qube!(TM) software. In a head-to-head server comparison, the SGI Workflow-Ready Solution for Render Management employing PipelineFX Qube! and SGI Altix XE310 servers came out on top in terms of price-performance. Because of their use of Renderman and Maya software, the fact that SGI Altix servers all run the Linux environment and use Intel processors was critical to the studio. The Altix XE310 servers delivered the ultimate performance density; they gave Vanguard Animation a 20 to 30 percent improvement in rendering speed. -- To drive its increasingly difficult quantitative interpretation, petrophysics, seismic time processing and depth imaging studies, DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) purchased a 640-core, 320GB SGI(R) Altix(R) XE 1300 cluster for installation at DUG headquarters in Perth, Western Australia. The new SGI cluster increases DUG's overall computational performance five-fold, allowing DUG experts to provide global energy industry clients with more accurate insights into what they can expect to find when drilling miles below the earth's surface. -- At the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute for Digital Simulation and Advanced Computation, a massive new SGI Altix XE cluster will ensure that current and emerging generations of processor-hungry applications won't slow down scientists and engineers. The 2,048-core SGI Altix XE 1300 cluster, installed in May, will transform the familiar submit-and-wait research experience into a vastly more interactive and productive one. Outfitted with more than 4TB of memory across 256 compute nodes, Minnesota's new Altix XE cluster will drive research in physical, biological, medical, mathematical and computing sciences, in addition to engineering studies and academic-industry collaboration. Minnesota's system also is linked via a high-bandwidth InfiniBand connection and runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 from Novell. Minnesota acquired the system by working with SGI and James River Technical, Inc. -- Dedic, the contact center company from Portugal Telecom Group, acquired an SGI Altix XE cluster to drive a payroll system for Dedic's 14,000 employees. The primary Altix XE solution, comprised of Altix XE210, XE240 and XE310 servers, is powered by a total of 56 Intel Xeon cores and 72GB of memory. The SGI Altix XE platform was certified by Microsiga for its Protheus payroll software system, enabling Dedic to take advantage of the Altix XE platform's leading price/performance to enable a reliable, high-performance payroll environment. Installed in June, the Altix systems run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 from Novell. -- Queensland University of Technology (QUT) selected SGI to provide a new HPC infrastructure to enable a new era of scientific and engineering research. In a contract won in conjunction with Intel, SGI is providing a hybrid SGI supercomputing, cluster and storage solution that is tightly integrated and yet flexible enough to serve multiple research disciplines. The solution will include a 96-core, 192GB SGI Altix 4700 shared-memory supercomputer powered by Dual-Core Intel Itanium 2 processors and a 112-core, 224GB SGI Altix XE1200 cluster powered by Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5300 series processors. The new systems are supported by a high-performance 28TB SGI InfiniteStorage solution. -- Two facilities at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), the State University of Campinas in Sao Paolo, Brazil, invested in SGI compute and data management solutions to tackle a range of high- performance computing problems. -- In an effort to improve downstream processes at Brazilian oil firm Petrobras, UNICAMP's School of Chemical Engineering purchased a 136-core, 272GB SGI Altix XE1300 cluster supported by an 8TB network-attached SGI InfiniteStorage 350 solution. The new cluster and storage deployment will help solve increasingly complex CFX computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. Leading performance of the Altix XE platform and Intel Xeon processors prompted UNICAMP to select SGI over HP and Dell. The Altix XE cluster runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 from Novell. -- A mounting need to provide HPC resources to a growing number of simultaneous users led UNICAMP CENAPAD, a National Center for High- Performance Computing, to purchase a 176-core SGI Altix 450 compute solution and a combination of new and upgraded SGI InfiniteStorage systems that added more than 56TB of capacity to its HPC storage and data management infrastructure. Selected over competing solutions from HP, IBM and Bull, the new SGI deployment will allow CENAPAD to support more researchers at one time, while reducing their time to discovery. UNICAMP CENAPAD supports users from many different research institutes and Universities in Brazil. CENAPAD users will rely on the SGI solutions to derive maximum performance from such applications as Gaussian, VASP, CPMD and other chemistry and physics codes. The Altix 450 system also will run SUSE Enterprise Linux Server 10 from Novell. -- Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand, acquired an Altix XE cluster to drive a range of scientific disciplines. Outfitted with 208 Intel Xeon processor cores and 416GB of memory, Massey's new Altix XE cluster will form part of the New Zealand BESTGRID project, giving the new system high national visibility. Three InfiniBand switches enable fast communication between nodes. The university selected the SGI cluster, built from 13 SGI Altix XE310 nodes and three InfiniBand switches, because it delivers best-in-class price/performance and density, while InfiniBand provides fast HPC-class interconnect capabilities. SGI delivered the cluster to Massey in August. -- Central Queensland University deployed an extensive SGI Altix XE and SGI InfiniteStorage installation to enable new areas of scientific research and data management at the Australian institution. The Quad- Core Altix cluster is comprised of multiple SGI Altix XE310 computational nodes, an SGI Altix XE240 file server and SGI Altix XE210 administration and head nodes. Delivered in June, the cluster is integrated with a 6TB SGI InfiniteStorage 220 solution and SGI Data Migration Facility, which will provide the ongoing data management capability necessary for multiple researchers to access and manage data on demand. -- Otago University, one of New Zealand's leading research institutions, acquired a turnkey SGI Altix XE1200 Cluster Solution and SGI InfiniteStorage 220 solution to equip its physics and chemistry departments with a state-of-the-art compute and data management platform powered by Intel Xeon quad-core processors. The Quad-Core cluster was selected in a competitive evaluation after SGI demonstrated the Altix XE performance advantage through extensive benchmark tests. Installed in July, the factory-integrated Altix XE and InfiniteStorage solution will allow Otago researchers to focus on science, and minimize system management.