Feeds

PathScale promises major Opteron cluster boost

Trendiest start-up ever

Intelligent flash storage arrays

SC05 PathScale may well be the trendiest company in the server market. It has bet on Linux clusters, Opteron and Infiniband. And its technology sits at the intersection of these three popular and growing segments of the hardware industry.

Up to this point, PathScale has relied on sales of its EKOPath compiler suite to stay afloat. The compilers are reworked versions of the Linux on Itanium code SGI open sourced. PathScale has tuned the compilers for 64-bit x86 chips and AMD's Opteron in particular.

In the Opteron market, customers have relatively few compiler choices. They can pick up the open source GCC compiler, Intel's Xeon/Opteron compilers, PGI's products, Sun Studio 10 or PathScale code. So far, 450 customers have gone with PathScale, and the company reckons it has the highest performing tools.

"Compilers aren't hugely profitable, but they are of strategic importance to us," said Len Rosenthal, a vice president of PathScale, in an interview here at the Supercomputing conference. "They give us access to the national labs, major universities and enterprises."

Interesting as compilers are, PathScale's real boom or bust product is the InfiniPath HTX Adapter for improving the performance of clusters heavy on Opteron and Infiniband. Companies such as Linux Networx have placed InfiniPath chips right on their server boards. Others, however, will pick up the separate adapter.

PathScale plans to release a half-height adapter within 30 days, which will be small enough to fit vertically in 2U servers. The product will sell for $795 – down from $895 for the current full-size product.

PathScale's major claim to fame is that InfiniPath reduces latency issues in larger Infiniband clusters in a pretty dramatic fashion. The company has benchmarked the hell out of the product, showing us sheet after sheet of results. You can find a condensed version of the data here. Of real note is the 1.32 microseconds for MPI latency.

Industry watchers know that after a slow start Infiniband has taken off in the last year with the high performance computing crowd flocking to the interconnect. But while Infiniband provides solid bandwidth, it has continued to suffer from latency issues.

"As you scale and build larger clusters, the latencies get worse," Rosenthal said. "So, the larger the cluster, the bigger the advantage you see with PathScale."

Mellanox delivers competing gear and has one advantage in that it can play in the PCI-Express/Xeon server world too. PathScale's product currently plugs right into Hypertransport slots on Opteron-based servers only. In the first quarter of next year, Pathscale will fix this by delivering a PCI-Express product but thinks latencies will come in around 1.67 microseconds because of limitations in PCI-Express versus AMD's technology.

Also coming early next year is the OptiPath MPI (message passing interface) tools package.

"One of the problems with MPI is that you need a doctorate in computer science to program in MPI," Rosenthal said. "This will make writing MPI applications much easier."

Scientists have often come to find that they must craft their own applications to run on clusters, requiring them to dabble in computer science along with their traditional fields. "The PathScale OptiPath MPI Acceleration Tools guide both MPI experts and scientists to the root causes of critical performance problems and direct them to proposed solutions. . . . OptiPath will dramatically improve time-to-results for scientists, researchers and engineers," PathScale said.

PathScale joins a growing list of companies that have centered their product attacks around Opteron-based Linux clusters. Without doubt, it has some high-performing gear that will likely gain a more significant place in the server market. Still, it's dependent on Infiniband's place in the HPC realm for better or for worse. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
The DRUGSTORES DON'T WORK, CVS makes IT WORSE ... for Apple Pay
Goog Wallet apparently also spurned in NFC lockdown
IBM, backing away from hardware? NEVER!
Don't be so sure, so-surers
Hey - who wants 4.8 TERABYTES almost AS FAST AS MEMORY?
China's Memblaze says they've got it in PCIe. Yow
Microsoft brings the CLOUD that GOES ON FOREVER
Sky's the limit with unrestricted space in the cloud
This time it's SO REAL: Overcoming the open-source orgasm myth with TODO
If the web giants need it to work, hey, maybe it'll work
'ANYTHING BUT STABLE' Netflix suffers BIG Europe-wide outage
Friday night LIVE? Nope. The only thing streaming are tears down my face
Google roolz! Nest buys Revolv, KILLS new sales of home hub
Take my temperature, I'm feeling a little bit dizzy
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.