Intel Plans To Unveil New Sandy Bridge HPC Boards

Intel will use its presence at the SC11 supercomputing conference to introduce new products that take advantage of the company's upcoming Sandy Bridge processors and Romley architecture, said David Brown, director of marketing for Intel's Enterprise Platform and Services Division (EPSD).

The move represents a change in plans for Intel and its EPSD, which a couple years made the strategic decision to focus its resources on areas other than high performance computing, Brown said.

"The server market had grown segmented," he said. "We felt the channel could be better served with a focus on our SMB and enterprise x86 markets."

However, Brown said, the HPC market has rebounded, and has recently been growing about 10 percent per year as customers require ever-increasing processing capabilities and larger clusters. "So we decided to get back in with new HPC components," he said.

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Intel plans to use SC11 to introduce a new series of half-width, dual-socket motherboards with high-performance throughput and large memory that take advantage of the company's release in the first half of 2012 of its new Romley architecture with Sandy Bridge processors, Brown said.

Intel also plans to introduce new 1U and 2U chasses to go with those motherboards, making it possible to squeeze up to 8 sockets of the new processors in a 2U space, he said.

Intel this Summer already started early shipments of some of the new HPC components via a partnership with Appro, a Milpitas, Calif.-based builder of supercomputers and high performance computers. The Appro systems were sold to government organizations such as Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Brown said.

Custom system builders are already working with Intel's coming HPC products.

Amax Information Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder with a large HPC business, expects to be one of the first system builders to showcase next-generation Intel-based HPC workstation solutions supporting up to four GPUs, said James Huang, Amax product marketing manager.

At SC11, Amax plans to show its ServMax DR-2201, a new eight-socket HPC system featuring four hot-pluggable dual-socket nodes for Intel Xeon E5-family processors. The DR-2201 features unbuffered DDR3 and registered DDR3 memory and room for up to 12 3.5-inch or 16 2.5-inch SATA or SAS hard drives.

Amax is also planning to show the ServMax PSC-2r, a 4-teraflop "personal supercomputer" featuring two sockets for Intel's upcoming next-generation Xeon E5 processors, support for four Nvidia Tesla C2075 GPU cards, and up to 24 GBs of dedicated DDR5 memory.

Huang declined to discuss performance of the new systems citing the fact that Intel has yet to release performance data for its upcoming processors.

"We're looking forward to the launch of the Romley, even though we don't know when it will be released," he said.

Bold Data Technology, also does a big business with high performance computing systems, said Andy Kretzer, director of sales and marketing for the Fremont, Calif.-based custom system builder.

However, Bold Data prefers to work with Supermicro, a motherboard and chassis maker and system builder which Kretzer said invented the custom HPC market.

"Intel was late to the HPC game," Kretzer said. "Intel makes excellent servers. I have nothing against Intel's solutions and hardware. Intel makes solid stuff. But the whole thing with the channel is, you need to be nimble and move quickly."