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Linux Vendors Leap Onto Madison Bandwagon

Jun 30, 2003, 15:00 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

Intel's Itanium 2 processor, codenamed Madison, was officially released today, and no less than three major vendors have announced their Linux product plans for the new platform.

High-performance computer maker SGI was the first out of the gate with their announcment of several new early adopters of the company's Linux-based Altix 3000 server line. Many of these customers have been using pre-release versions of the Altix with Madision for the last several weeks, but today's official release of Madision clears the way for SGI to tout its customer list.

It's an impressive customer list, too. Luminaries include The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, which is purchasing an SGI Altix 3000 system powered by 416 Intel Itanium 2 processors (1.30 GHz, 3M) and 832GB of memory. The Center for Computational Sciences at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is using a new Altix 3000 installation running 256 Intel Itanium 2 processors (1.50 GHz with 6MB L3 cache) with 2 terabytes of system memory and 1.5 teraFLOPs of computational power. The University of Minnesota's Supercomputing Institute will serve researchers across the state of Minnesota with a new SGI Altix 3000 system driven by 24 Intel Itanium 2 processors (1.30 GHz, 3MB) and 48GB of system memory.

"With these new Itanium 2 processors, SGI Altix 3000 delivers precisely the kind of world-record performance required by SGI customers and developers," said Dave Parry, senior vice president and general manager of Servers and Platform Group, SGI. "SGI's technical compute customers are among the most demanding users in the world, and the Altix 3000 system's ability to extract near-linear scalability from new processors is a substantial competitive advantage for them. They realize that the Altix 3000 provides the balance and bandwidth necessary to get the absolute most from the fastest processors Intel has to offer."

Another hardware vendor who is taking advantage of the Itanium 2 release today is Texas-based computer maker Dell.

According to a statment from a company spokeswoman, Dell's new PowerEdge 3250 server with Intel Itanium 2 processors is available today, with prices starting at US$5,999. An eight-node clustered configuration for high performance computing is priced at US$88,600.

"The dual-processor PowerEdge 3250 server delivers a cost-effective, scale-out solution for high-performance cluster computing (HPCC)," Dell's statement read.

Also today, Dell will offer Intel's latest Xeon MP processors with up to 2.8GHz speed and 2MB embedded cache on the PowerEdge 6650 and 6600 four-way servers with prices starting at US$4,999 and US$5,499, respectively.

On the Transaction Performance Council's TPC-C benchmark for performance, a PowerEdge 6600 with four 2.8GHz Xeon MP processors achieved 84,595 transactions per minute, the fastest performance for a Xeon-based server, Dell's statement asserted.

Software vendor Red Hat, Inc. is not to be left out of the Madison festivities, as the Raleigh, NC-based company announced the immediate availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS and WS for Intel Itanium 2.

According to Red Hat, the new solution will deliver major performance scaling benefits on a standards-based platform for the most compute intensive business applications.

"Red Hat is committed to delivering the highest levels of performance for mission-critical datacenter applications. With the Intel Itanium 2 processor, we've seen performance scaling of 33% on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform," said Brian Stevens, vice president of Operating System Development at Red Hat. "Red Hat Enterprise Linux continues to lead in performance and value on Intel-based platforms."

"Intel and Red Hat have worked closely to optimize Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS and WS for the powerful new platforms based on Itanium 2 processors," said Deborah Conrad, vice president, Intel Solutions Market Development Group. "The performance optimization,rigorous testing and validation of the Red Hat operating system on new Intel-based platforms brings Red Hat customers the performance and investment protection they demand in enterprise server environments."

Red Hat has already lined up a hardware vendor to distribute Enterprise Server AS and WS for Itanium 2: HP.

"As the market share leader in Itanium 2-based systems, HP was the first company to offer Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Itanium 2-based servers and workstations," said Martin Fink, vice president of Linux, HP. "The increased performance of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on HP's latest Itanium 2-based systems will demonstrate to customers further validation of HP and Red Hat's enterprise technologies."

As the week progresses, expect to see more announcements from Linux vendors who will also be jumping on the Itanium 2 platform bandwagon. Not so from IBM, which recently announced they are pulling back from the own plans to develop for the Itanium line.

"IBM doesn't have anyone dedicated to working with Linux on Itanium," Ron Favali, a spokesman for IBM said in a recent interview with InfoWorld. "Our view right now is that Itanium is like a science project. There's not a market for it."

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