Saturday, January 30, 2010

Brits choose Altix UV supers to fight cancer

The Altix UV massively parallel supers might not be shipping until the third quarter of this year, but Silicon Graphics is lining up customers who want to get the box early. The latest customer to ink a deal for an Altix UV is the United Kingdom's Institute of Cancer Research.

Because Intel has yet to launch the "Beckton" eight-core Nehalem-EX processors that are the compute engines in the Altix UV machines, the details are a bit sketchy on exactly what ICR is buying, and the organization did not divulge what systems it currently has in place in Reading, where ICR does research and simulations to come up with new treatments for a variety of cancers.

ICR was founded in 1909 and is a college in the University of London. It is partnered with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. According to ICR's 2009-2015 strategic planning report, the researchers laboring at the facility were the first to figure out that DNA damage causes cancer and figured out the link between smoking and lung cancer. ICR has drilled down deeper into the cell genetics to find out what genes are associated with which cancers, leading to earlier detection, and it has synthesized chemotherapy drugs and tweaked radiotherapy techniques so they are less toxic and more effective.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Intel Expects More Enterprise Dollars in 2010

Despite a super-positive fourth-quarter earnings call, Intel wasn't very pleased with enterprise spending in 2009, instead noting that consumers drove the company's revenue up.

"It was not a robust year in the enterprise," said Paul Otellini, CEO, Intel.

Otellini also expects that to change in 2010 while Intel does its part in helping push the corporate market. Not only will Intel release its eight-core Nehalem EX Xeon processor for servers with four or more sockets, but the chip maker also plans to replace every chip in its server portfolio with 32nm Westmere parts, and do so within the next 90 days, Otellini said.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Intel to release Westmere server chips in three months

Intel plans to release next-generation Xeon server processors based on the Westmere microarchitecture in the next three months, the company said on Thursday.

Intel plans to refresh its line of Xeon server chips as it ramps up chip production to the 32-nanometer process, said Paul Otellini, Intel's CEO, during a financial earnings call. Intel last week released the first Westmere chips for desktops and laptops, and Xeon server chips are next in line, Otellini said.

The last refresh for server chips was in March last year, when the company announced a range of Xeon 5500 series and 3500 series chips based on the Nehalem architecture. The chips were made using the 45-nm process.

The highly anticipated eight-core Nehalem-EX server chip will also be released in the first half, an Intel spokesman said on Thursday. Nehalem-EX will be Intel's fastest server chip to date, Otellini said during the call. The chip will be manufactured using the 45-nm process.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Intel Sees Strong Q4, Fueled by New Products, Consumer Demand

Otellini also said Intel was planning to refresh its entire line of server portfolio with 32-nm processors, and noted the improvements in performance and energy efficiency in the company’s upcoming eight-core “Nehalem EX” processor for servers with four or more sockets.

“Nehalem EX represents the biggest increase in performance in the history of the Xeon brand,” he said.

Otellini said he expects enterprises will see some of the pressure being taken off their budgets, and that unlike in 2009, they will have good reason to refresh their hardware, whether it’s servers or PCs. Still, neither he nor Smith would venture any predictions for corporate spending in 2010.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

AMD's Server Roadmap Plots a Course for HPC

Our recent coverage of AMD's Financial Analyst Day outlined the chipmaker's overall server strategy for the next couple of years, but left a lot to the imagination with regard to how all this might play out in the high performance computing space. The presentation for the analysts barely acknowledged the HPC market, instead emphasizing AMD's main thrusts in the mainstream server and client segments. In a more recent conversation with John Fruehe, AMD's director of product marketing for the server and embedded group, we were able to get a better idea of how the company sees its HPC prospects for 2010 and beyond.

One might wonder how much AMD -- or Intel, for that matter -- thinks about the HPC market these days. Despite a better growth rate than the mainstream server market, HPC still only represents between 2 to 10 percent of server chip revenue, depending on who you talk to. In the commodity chip business, that's too small a segment to inspire separate processor designs, but too big to ignore. "The beauty of HPC," says Fruehe, "is that you have an opportunity to sell large numbers of processors in a single shot." According to him, that is reason enough to stay in the game.

And in any case, many mainstream enterprise applications require essentially the same performance characteristics as HPC workloads: large numbers of fast cores and high memory bandwidth. The soon-to-be-released 45nm Magny-Cours Opteron sports 8 or 12 cores and four memory channels. That design, says Fruehe, is well-suited to HPC workloads, and he believes it will help them capture more of the server market in 2010. Magny-Cours' current competition is the quad-core Nehalem EP, which has three memory channels, and the 8-core Nehalem EX that can support up to eight sockets. The idea is that Magny-Cours will outrun Nehalem EP on memory bandwidth and out-compete Nehalem EX on price and power consumption.

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