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Supercomputer niche chucks rocks at Nehalem

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As niche supercomputer-maker SiCortex works on the next generation of its line and watches the IT marketing machine gearing up for Intel's impending Nehalem-based Xeon EP, the company says that Chipzilla isn't moving in the right direction for high-performance computing (HPC) workloads.

"The major improvement is in the integration of the memory controller, so you don't have to send all the memory traffic over the northbridge," says Jud Leonard, co-founder and chief architect at SiCortex. "But this only solves one of the three issues that Intel faces - issues that we have already solved. Intel hasn't done anything about solving the performance-per-watt problem, and they haven't done anything in terms of on-chip communication."

The future "Gainestown" Nehalem Xeon EP due on March 31 will run at between 1.86GHz and 3.2GHz with DDR3 main memory running at 800MHz, 1066MHz, or 1333MHz. TDPs will range from 60 to 130 watts.

The SiCortex super runs a variant of Gentoo Linux and has a tweaked version of the Lustre open-source clustered file system controlled by Sun and used by many supercomputer centers. Sun bought the company behind the Lustre project in September 2007.

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