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Major hardware manufacturers are readying performance, clustering and interconnect offerings aimed at the supercomputing space but drawing the attention of enterprise IT.

At the SC2004 supercomputing show in Pittsburgh this week, Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. will roll out new and enhanced bundles designed to ease the deployment and management of HPC (high-performance computing) environments.

“Twenty to 25 years ago, there was a distinct difference between [HPC] and data processing computing,” said Reza Rooholamini, director of enterprise solutions engineering at Dell, in Round Rock, Texas. “The line between the two worlds has blurred.”

At the show, Dell will unveil the PowerEdge SC1425, a 1U (1.75-inch) system designed for HPC clusters and Web farms. The system includes Intel’s “Nocona” Xeon processors, which support both 32-bit and 64-bit software, up to 12GB of DDR (double data rate) 2 memory, and embedded Dual Gigabit Ethernet.

HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., will unveil its Unified Cluster Portfolio, a bundle of hardware, software and services designed to enable HPC users to easily deploy and manage clusters. The package is based on HP’s ProLiant and Itanium Integrity systems and runs HP-UX 11i, Linux or Windows Server 2003.

The bundle includes the latest versions of HP’s StorageWorks Scalable File Share server and HP-MPI message-passing interface, as well as two new entry-level Integrity servers based on Intel Corp.’s new Itanium 2 9M processor, the two-way rx1620 and rx2620. HP is also upgrading its four-way rx4640 with the new Itanium.

Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., is extending its partnership with InfiniBand vendor Topspin Communications Inc., integrating Topspin’s interconnect technology into Sun’s Opteron-based Sun Fire V20z and V40z servers, officials said.

While the supercomputing show has been the domain of academic and government institutions, enterprises—thanks to the rise of cluster computing and x86-based products in both HPC and commercial environments—now look to it as a signpost to the future.

Until recent years, the only thing of interest to Jevin Jensen at the annual supercomputing show was the Top 500 list. That has changed.

“It’s definitely elevated itself to something I need to read about, keep an eye on the results that come out of it [and] the best practices they discuss,” said Jensen, director of technical services at Mohawk Industries Inc., in Calhoun, Ga. “It hasn’t reached the level that we want to commit to sending someone there yet, but … now I know it’s coming up, I’ve read up on it and will do research [after it ends].”

Jensen, who runs Intel-based xSeries and Unix-based iSeries systems from IBM, said of key interest are technologies such as clustering and virtualization.

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