High-performance computing is usually the breeding ground for bleeding edge technology. Now, Linux may not exactly be bleeding edge, but HPC continues to be the area of greatest early traction for the operating system.
Linux on Intel is especially attractive for academic and scientific research work because of its cost, stability and reliability -- characteristics required for compute-intensive environments.
Intel Corp., for example, first unleashed its high-end, 64-bit Itanium 2 processors on the HPC space. Enterprises, meanwhile, watch and wait to interpret the benchmarks and price-performance of the processor before bringing it into data centers.
Meanwhile, Linux vendors are, naturally, starting to capitalize on the HPC interest in Linux on Itanium. SuSE Linux AG announced Tuesday its first server product for Itanium 2, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8. Also, the Nuremberg, Germany, vendor announced that its server has been chosen as the core technology for portions of the TeraGrid, a scientific computing system used by researchers in the United States.
The TeraGrid is an interconnected series of clusters that enables scientists and researchers in the U.S. to share computing resources for work in the life sciences, climate modeling and more.
The deal also involves a partnership with IBM Global Services. IBM's services organization will deploy the clusters of SuSE servers at four TeraGrid sites and will run IBM supercomputing software -- CSM and GPFS -- for cluster and file management tasks. Myricom Inc.'s Myrinet interconnect will enable interprocessor communication. The system will have a storage capacity of more than 600 terabytes.
Giga Information Group analyst Stacey Quandt said that Itanium is a niche market.
"It doesn't have vast ISV [independent software vendor] support," Quandt said. "It's primarily a niche market, but a niche market worth pursing for SuSE, because there is value there."
Earlier this month, SuSE CEO Richard Seibt told SearchEnterpriseLinux.com that his company will have a carrier-grade Linux (CGL) service pack ready this year, six months ahead of the competition. It will also release SuSE Linux Enterprise Server for AMD's Opteron 64-bit server on the same day the processor is shipped. Seibt also promised a "same code base" desktop product in the second quarter of 2003 -- one that allows customers to utilize all the server skills they already have, as well as the software and hardware certifications of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server, and which gives users the ability to freely switch between thin- and rich-client type configurations.
SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 for Intel Itanium Processor Family contains four CDs, documentation and the SuSE Linux Maintenance Program for 12 months. SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 for Intel Itanium Processor Family will be available by the end of March from SuSE and SuSE Linux partners.
Features in SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 include encrypted file systems, secure 128-bit network connections, a user-defined automated software distribution and management system, increased data throughput via asynchronous device management (which prevents the system from being hampered by slow devices like hard drives), detailed process control and resource utilization, a logical volume manager, journaling file systems and more.
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