Next-Generation Platform Keeps Data Centers Running Cool Without Compromising Performance, Price and Scalability
SGI today unveiled SGI® Altix® ICE, a next-generation platform that brings all the advantages of the company's expertise in high-performance computing (HPC) to a tightly integrated, cool-running blade solution. Designed by SGI to close the growing gap between performance and user productivity, SGI® Altix® ICE 8200 is the first in a new line of bladed servers purpose-built to handle true HPC applications and large scale-out workloads.
Even as it accommodates larger and more varied workloads, SGI Altix ICE doesn't force users to accept compromises in price/performance, power and space efficiency, reliability and manageability. In fact, many of the platform's advantages — including price/performance — actually improve as customers add blades and racks.
SGI Altix ICE enables large scale-out environments while minimizing their demands on the data center's space and power. Its ultra-dense rack architecture delivers up to 40 percent more compute performance per floor tile than competing blades. A single SGI Altix ICE 8200 rack can be powered by as many as 512 Intel® Xeon® processor cores and deliver 6 TFLOPS of performance.
Around the world, SGI is seeing strong customer interest in the new platform. SGI Altix ICE systems have already been installed at a number of customer sites, including the University of Exeter in England and General Atomics in San Diego.
"General Atomics is always looking for the fastest computer because we work with increasingly large models," said Dave Wade, senior systems programming analyst, General Atomics, one of the world's leading resources for high-technology systems development. "But the capacity of our computer room is maxed, and asking it to handle more heat is not cost-effective. With SGI Altix ICE, SGI has delivered the fastest computer with a significant bonus — an exceptionally small footprint and a very, very low cost in energy. SGI Altix ICE meets every criterion, and allows our scientists and engineers to solve large models in days, rather than weeks."
The new platform's high compute density helps customers overcome more than "server sprawl." SGI Altix ICE features a breakthrough energy-smart design that can save organizations up to $53,000 in annual energy costs for a 10TFLOP system. And it arrives pre-integrated for easy "power up and go" deployment, allowing customers to focus on their work — not on set-up and administration.
"We repeatedly hear from our customers that first-generation clusters haven't delivered the productivity that their performance potential suggested was possible, creating an increasing gap between peak performance and actual productivity. Meanwhile, those same organizations are struggling to keep pace with the complexities of using, supporting, powering and cooling these systems," said Robert "Bo" Ewald, CEO, SGI. "SGI Altix ICE is a new generation of system architecture — part cluster, part MPP — that will deliver more of the potential performance of the system to the end user, and will considerably increase the reliability, availability and serviceability of HPC installations in a smaller, more energy-efficient footprint."
Greater Density, Fewer Headaches
SGI achieved dramatic density improvements by implementing a new, highly integrated version of the "Atoka" board, which SGI co-designed with Intel Corporation. This next-generation board, designed specifically for the HPC market, allows a single SGI Altix ICE 8200 blade to be powered by two Dual- or Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors, and up to 32GB of memory.
"Intel's long history of successful collaboration with SGI has led to important HPC breakthroughs in scalable shared memory and compute density," said Kirk Skaugen, Intel vice president, Digital Enterprise Group and general manager, Server Platforms Group. "SGI Altix ICE, built around the double-density Atoka board, is the latest of these achievements to deliver HPC solutions that make the most of standards-based, multi-core Intel processor technology."
To ensure optimal application performance and scalability, the new platform features support for dual high-speed, low-latency Double Data Rate (DDR) InfiniBand backplanes, enabling blistering fast communication between nodes and racks, even as deployments scale to thousands of processors. By dedicating a Gigabit Ethernet network for administrative tasks, SGI has freed up the 20Gb/second DDR InfiniBand connection for compute traffic. For optimal dynamic communication, the new system also utilizes a hierarchical network topology that requires no external switching.
The integrated blade format also makes system service and maintenance easier than ever. SGI gave its new platform an elegant, cable-free individual rack unit (IRU) design and on-board InfiniBand network interface cards, thus reducing the number of failure points in every rack. SGI Altix ICE 8200 IRUs feature redundant, hot-swap power and cooling components.
With its diskless blade architecture, SGI Altix ICE also provides for "off-blade" centralization of storage resources. By moving the storage off compute blades, SGI allows customers to choose the storage option that best fits their computing environment, including SGI® InfiniteStorage solutions tailored to meet specific application demands. This "off-blade" disk design further reduces cost, weight and power consumption — while enhancing reliability.
"With SGI Altix ICE, SGI is offering end users the ability to more easily run very large jobs and to scale out their HPC systems. Users are looking for clusters that can scale to much larger sizes without having to do a lot of computer science work to get there," said Earl Joseph, IDC program vice president, High-Performance Systems, IDC. "With this new platform, SGI is addressing a number of customer pains points in system management, interconnects and running large parallel problems, while at the same time using industry standard components and removing parts like the disk drives on the blades in order to help keep the price down. We expect that many of the design trends that SGI is introducing in SGI Altix ICE to be common in high performance blade-based systems in the future."
"HPC clusters are popular platforms for STAR-CD and STAR-CCM+, but putting them together has become an increasing headache," said Steven L. Feldman, vice president, IT/Product Development, CD-adapco. "With the elegant design of the SGI Altix ICE platform, SGI cleverly takes care of power, cooling and floor space issues, addresses cluster management with a pre-installed software stack, and introduces new levels of blade serviceability with a reduced-cable rack design. On top of all this, we anticipate tremendous CFD application performance from the SGI Altix ICE platform's multi-core Intel Xeon processors and multiple DDR InfiniBand backbones."
Cool-Running HPC Systems Save Money, Extend Asset Life
With this new platform, SGI has made green HPC a reality, helping customers conquer the challenges of soaring electric and cooling expenses, and maximizing the reliable life of the new platform by ensuring it runs cool.
SGI took advantage of energy-conscious and field-proven innovations originally developed for its Intel® Itanium® processor-based Altix® line, equipping SGI Altix ICE with an energy-smart power architecture that realizes more than 90 percent efficiency on its 12-volt DC front-end power supply, up to 87 percent efficiency on compute blades, and up to 76 percent efficiency at the rack level.
The new platform also boasts SGI's new, third-generation water-cooled door design — an ideal option for customers deploying large and dense configurations. Chilled water running through the unique hinged door carries away up to 95 percent of the heat generated by an SGI Altix ICE system. More than 250 water-cooled doors have already been installed and proven reliable on existing SGI Altix systems worldwide.
Because server cooling can add 50 to 100 percent to power consumption costs, these SGI breakthroughs equate to significant savings for customers who face rapidly compounding costs as they try to supply power to their data centers, while keeping them cool enough to maximize product life. For a large deployment, these efficiencies can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost savings every year.
"Power Up and Go" Productivity
Building on two decades of experience developing "power up and go" solutions, SGI has unveiled a system that can have user applications up and running in a single day, with 6TFLOPS per rack to drive immediate productivity.
"Our 128-core SGI Altix ICE system arrived in the morning and it was running that afternoon," said Matthew Bate, professor of theoretical astrophysics at the University of Exeter, which plans to use its new SGI Altix ICE platform to simulate the formation of stars and planets. "All the system software came pre-installed, which is helping to make system management and training extremely easy. When a university can achieve rapid productivity on a powerful system like SGI Altix ICE, it makes for some very excited researchers."
"We've been impressed with how quickly SGI Altix ICE was installed and configured," added General Atomics' Wade. "With SGI Altix ICE, we had an entirely new HPC platform up and running in almost record time."
Essential to the SGI Altix ICE line's immediate productivity is the SGI® Conductor software solution stack, a comprehensive array of essential components that comes pre-installed with every SGI Altix ICE 8200 system. Included in the software stack one of two cluster management software options:
* SGI® Tempo, which leverages open source OSCAR application components and allows administrators to flexibly monitor and manage their deployment at the blade, chassis and rack and system levels. Using a hierarchical management approach, SGI enables users to optimize their networks and racks on demand to best accommodate specific workflows; manage data at different stages, including aggregating data for a single point of view or isolating details for easier evolution; easily substitute or add components; and separate the management of VLANs and subnetworks from application networks.
* Scali Manage™, which optimizes the deployment and ongoing administration of SGI Altix ICE systems by combining the most complete, integrated and flexible cluster management and monitoring system commercially available.
The software stack also includes:
* Industry-standard SUSE® Linux® Enterprise Server 10
* The SGI® ProPack™ 5 Software for Linux OS, which combines essential tools for workflow optimization and system fine-tuning
* Altair® PBS Professional™ 9.0 workload management software
* InfiniBand Fabric and Subnet Management environment
Pricing and Availability
SGI Altix ICE 8200 is available from SGI and SGI value-added resellers today in configurations ranging from 8 to 512 processors per rack. A full rack is U.S. List priced from approximately $350,000. For more information on SGI Altix ICE, go to http://www.sgi.com/products/servers/altix/ice/