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Sun lassoes Longhorn-sized supercomputer win

UT gets visual

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Sun Microsystems and the University of Texas have teamed to create an UltraSparc-powered giant that will crunch 3D tasks for the school.

The system dubbed Maverick - also the name of one of Sun CEO Scott McNealy's sons - is based around a 64-processor Sun FIre E25K server. In the world of RISC computing, few systems are larger than this Sun beast. The box uses Sun's dual-core UltraSPARC IV chip, which means there will actually be 128 processor cores available for computing. The system also has a whopping 512GB of shared memory as well as terabytes of networked storage.

"We expect Maverick's powerful capabilities for scientific visualization, supported by TACC's (The Texas Advanced Computer Center) expert visualization staff, to enable the UT Austin and national research communities to analyze the vast amounts of data being computed on terascale computing systems and rapidly solve the most challenging problems," said Jay Boisseau, director of TACC.

TACC had systems from a number of vendors, including IBM and SGI, as of our last visit.

Sun and UT worked for one year, configuring the box for specific workloads. It will be used for tasks such as Emergency Response Management and Flood Modeling (specifically for the state of Texas); Global Weather Prediction; Earthquake Engineering; and Homeland Security including biohazard research.

The is a solid supercomputing win for Sun, which has fallen behind competitors like IBM and HP in the race to produce the biggest, baddest systems. It proves that interest remains for Sun's higher-priced UltraSPARC boxes. These high-margin systems are key revenue producers for Sun, especially given the company's recent focus on low-margin Opteron-based server sales. Sun needs a healthy mix of both types of servers to move from its shipping docks if it is to be profitable on a consistent basis.

Hook 'Em Horns! ®

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