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DESKTOP HPC
➤ all on the same box and thus to ‘virtualise’ many as 32 cores of Intel processing; other
3D, visualisation and hi-definition video blades are available for visualisation and
programs at full speed. While running with GPGPUs. The 7U box is the same size
more desktops on each server significantly as the CX1 (31 x 17.5 x 35.5cm) and thus
reduces the total cost of ownership, an is field upgradeable to a full 8-slot CX1.
interesting concept is that an engineer It rests on a simple deskside pedestal, its
could, for example, replace multiple 800W power supply plugs into a standard
workstations sitting on his desk, each one outlet and the box complies with the ISO
running a different graphics-intensive NR45 noise regulations for general office
design or analysis program, such as CAD areas. The system can be easily expanded
under Windows and a CFD code under by connecting up to three chassis with
Linux, all on the same hardware. an internal switch infrastructure. An
interesting plus is a front-control panel
Deskside racks with a touch-screen LCD that supports
Users often place a tower next to their a configuration wizard and also provides
desks, so why not put a small rack there? information about local server nodes, the
These systems use a ‘blade’ concept enclosure and modules. BoxClusterDSN
so you can populate them with the Another example is the BoxClusterDSN.
processing power you need or can afford. Measuring 568 x 434 x 640mm, this in ambients up to 40° C (104° F). The
They’ve become quiet enough not to be a deskside unit provides four positions, vendor supplies a number of trays that take
distraction in an office environment, they each of which can be populated with two advantage of the latest processor options,
plug into standard wall sockets and weigh including GPGPUs, and most CloudRack
little enough that they can be safely placed
‘Users often place a tower next
trays include support for up to either six or
on standard office floor systems. When on eight SATA or SAS hard drives.
casters, they can be moved around for a
to their desks, so why not put a
To address this market, IBM provides
quick change in the work location without
small rack there? These systems
the BladeCenter S chassis, a 7U rack-
the need for any special tools.
use a “blade” concept so you
optimised chassis that accommodates 1 to
A recent offering in this vein comes from 14 blades and plugs into a standard outlet.
Cray, which has expanded its entry-level
can populate them with the
The BladeCenter S Office Enablement Kit
systems with the CX1-LC (where ‘LC’
processing power you need or
is the ideal way to deploy it in an everyday
refers to ‘light configuration’, supporting
can afford’
office. The kit enables several office-friendly
four nodes instead of the eight in the CX1). features such as the built-in Acoustical
With a base price of less than $12k, it is Module, a front locking door, 33 per cent or
available with the Xeon 5500 Series and quad-core Xeon L5520 processors for a 4U available for expansion.
supports from one to four blades for as total of 32 cores; it also holds 384GB of The market for computers selling for
memory and 16 hard disks. It is available less than $50k is not nearly as big as
in two variations, for either 110V or 220V people have portrayed it to be claims Herb
AC. The four nodes are in a proprietary Schultz of IBM. He believes that desktop
format, but the external enclosure size is supercomputing has not captured the
the same as a standard rackmount width so imagination of users. Instead, the model for
it’s possible to put this system into a server the delivery of compute cycles is changing.
rack, if desired. It draws less than 15A of Why buy a system and manage it when you
current, weighs fewer than 95lbs and specs a might not always need this extra power?
noise level of 51.2dB(A). And where users previously had to purchase
Also suited for optional mounting in the service of many nodes for long periods,
a 19-inch rack is SGI’s CloudRack X2. now they can ‘rent’ hundreds of processors
It measures 24.4-inches (14U) high and for half a day – computing on demand has
with a base of 17.6 x 41 inches has a become very discrete and inexpensive.
footprint of five square feet; it supplies Renting cycles in this way can also alleviate
nine slots for fanless and coverless 1U a number of problems. There are no worries
server trays installed vertically as well as about sufficient electricity; no system
2U available for networking equipment. It administration is necessary; and there is no
accommodates a maximum of 36 processors liability, because of an extra level of security;
(216 cores). Running from 180-250V data centres supply backup recovery, so you
AC (no 110V AC), the CloudRack X2 don’t have to worry about what happens if a
Cray CX1-LC is thermally optimised to safely operate key computer gets stolen.
30
SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING WORLD OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009 www.scientific-computing.com
SCWoct09 pp26-31 HPC desktop.indd 30 10/1/09 12:47:12 PM
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