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Orion decouples 30 per cent of staff

Personal cluster maker gets personal

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Orion Multisystems - the dominant player in the desktop cluster market - has gone through its first major round of layoffs, as the company tries to tighten its bottom line.

Orion has cut up to 30 per cent of its staff, CEO Colin Hunter told The Register. Hunter declined to say exactly how many people were let go, but Orion started business last year with close to 45 employees. The layoffs come four months after Orion started shipping a stunning 96-processor personal cluster.

"We needed to match expenses with revenue," Hunter said. "We need to make sure we evolve into a profitable company."

One source claimed that the job cuts at Orion were tied to a loss in venture funding, but Hunter said such charges were "not accurate." Orion simply made a "necessary expense reduction."

It's easy to label Orion as the dominant player in the desktop and deskside cluster market, since it's really the only company making this class of machine. Customers can purchase a 12-processor box or the 96-processor system. Both computers plug into a standard outlet, have one on/off switch and run standard Linux cluster software on top of Transmeta-based innards.

The systems have proved popular with customers that need serious horsepower at the desks of researchers or engineers. Oil and gas, medical and entertainment companies have shown interest in the Orion gear, as have government agencies.

Orion plans to continue an overseas expansion in Europe and Asia despite the cost-cutting moves, Hunter said. ®

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