by June 30, 2004 0 comments

SGI, the name that comes to mind when you think of high-performance graphics workstations used for special effects and 3D modeling, is also one that is associated with high-performance computing. SGI servers are of two types: SGI Altix and SGI Origin.

The NUMAflex memory architecture of these servers aims to provide access to all the data and processors directly, thus reducing the bottlenecks in I/O and networks. When a cluster of computers with internal memory want to share data, they pass it in the form of messages that complicate programming and induce delays. NUMAflex uses a system memory interconnect called the SGI NUMAlink that enables shared memory calls resulting in faster computations and evaluation of bigger data sets.

The NUMAflex architecture uses shared global memory for all processors and
OSs, unlike commodity servers that have dedicated memory ?

The SGI Altix 3000 range boasts of being the most scalable Linux system in the world. Each node can run a single Linux image on a set of 256 Itanium 2 processors and 1 TB of RAM. It runs on a 64-bit Linux platform. This is backed by a concept known as the Global Shared Memory architecture. Branded as the NUMAflex architecture, it allows different nodes to access not only in-node, but also out-of-node memory. The NUMAlink fabric interconnect provides the interface for interaction between these high performance servers and delivers both memory and networking information between these. The data crosses over a SGI NUMAflex switch, round-trip, in about 50 nanoseconds. This system, like most other SGI high performance servers, works on a brick module basis. ?

Supporting up to 512 CPUs and 1 TB of RAM, SGI Origin is easily one on of the fastest systems around. Like other SGI systems, this system is also divided into bricks and is powered by the NUMAflex architecture for global shared memory usage. The bricks approach helps in making this system modular and scalable. Bricks are nothing but specialized components that can be arranged in the system in a rack manner. Some of the important components are: ?

R-Brick is the router Interconnect module that enables memory sharing and supports upto 512 processors.

CX-Brick is the compute module that can support up to 16 R1600/ R16000A processors.

PX-Brick contains six buses of 64-bit/ 133 MHz PCI buses with two slots each, making 12 PCI-X slots in total.

D-Brick2 supports up to 16 hot pluggable Fiber-channel disks. While it supports 73 GB disks at 15,000 RPM, you could use a 146 GB disk at 10K RPM also. ?

Origin 3800 at IIT Chennai

Based on 64 MIPS RISC processors and 32 GB of memory, the Origin 3800 system is implemented in IIT, Chennai and is one of the most powerful
computer systems in India. This system runs the IRIX (UNIX) OS, and is being used for both commercial as well as academic applications. Some of these applications include dynamic engine modeling for commercial vehicles, automotive tyre analysis, human heart modeling and earthquake prediction.

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