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Function trumps form at Intel showcase

We muster an Itanic cluster or two

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IDF Vendors showcasing their wares at this year's IDF checked all their glitzy booth adornments at the door, picking a plain and simple pitch instead.

For the most part, the IDF show floor was covered with drab, little vendor receptacles. Some companies like Nvidia managed to put up a flat panel or two to show off their graphics skills, but the average vendor could only muster a few press kits, some candy and a software demo. One hardware integrator simply had a server sitting on a chair with a robot disguised as a human saying: "This fits four Xeons."

Unlike other showcases such as CES or MacWorld, IDF proves that function trumps form in the land of the industry standard.

That said, some vendors' gear did manage to catch our eye and demand a trip around their booths.

Seamless

The folks over at Seamless Display have done a nice job with the Horizon 320. The product melds three 20-inch LCD screens into a massive 40-inch display. It's aimed at people doing a lot of design work, users creating large spreadsheets of data and those running simulators for things like pilot training.

At present, the display is a bit bulky and literally rough around the edges. There appeared to be dark areas at the seams of the connected displays. Seamless Display, however, is looking to slim the system down and give it a better, "seamless" final polish.

Blade

Silicon Mechanics was showing its line of Xeon-based servers. The Bladeform Blade Server Platform is essentially a rebadged version of the blade design created by Intel and IBM. The two giants partnered to create a type of white box blade standard. Dell is said to be picking up the design for a new blade line after struggling with its own gear.

Silicon Mechanics has both a two-way and a four-way blade available. As you would expect, the kit is not all that flashy but looks more than adequate to get grunt computing work done.

We chatted with the Silicon Mechanics crew for a bit and discussed the prospects of an Itanium-based blade. Our troubling consensus was that Itanium blades could well accelerate global warming. Chuckles all around.

Itanic servers

Celestica and Appro also put their servers on display. Both vendors have crammed two Itanics into a 1U system. If you want to do a bit of comparison shopping, check out Celestica's IYA210 here and Appro's 1224T here. Appro is also pushing a HyperBlade product that combines 17 Itanium servers into a mini-cluster or 80 servers in a full cluster.

All three of these server vendors also sell systems with AMD's Opteron chip.

Cluster

High performance computing fans might already know of Callident, but if you're not familiar with the company, you might want to check out their Linux cluster software.

Callident Rx is a tweaked version of the NPACI Rocks software built by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). The product automates much of the Linux cluster installation process. It also ships with a host of popular cluster and high performance computing software packages.

An Intel staffer demonstrating the software gave it high praise. Top on his list was the time Callident saved in a cluster install, reducing the process to a couple hours. The software works with both Xeon and Itanium servers.

Check out all of our IDF coverage here: IDF Spring '04
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