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Tyan unit to push personal supercomputers

As the Typhoon turns

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SC06 Tyan thinks that personal supercomputers may help it form a more direct relationship with end users. The company on Tuesday plans to reveal a new OEM division dedicated to selling its Typhoon personal supercomputers to engineers, software developers, researchers, and demanding business customers.

The TyanPSC division approach differs from the company's traditional focus on moving motherboards and basic systems behind the scenes. Rather than staying in the shadows, Tyan hopes to court end users directly by outfitting the Typhoon systems with high performance computing software packages from a number of partners.

The company is expected to announce its plans at the Supercomputing conference being held this week in Tampa, although El Reg was able to obtain the dirt a bit early.

Tyan has repeatedly talked up the Typhoon personal supercomputer systems, and has put up specs on an early Opteron-based box. The company is now very close to shipping Xeon-based gear as well. Some customers already have test units, and high-volume shipments will start in January.

The Typhoon box packs up to five two-socket server boards in a 21 inch x 14 inch x 28 inch wheelable case. All told, that's 20 cores worth of Intel's Woodcrest chips or 40 cores worth of the four-core Clovertown chip that Intel is set to release tomorrow, as previously reported here.

When running all out, a Typhoon 600 Series box should reach 256 gigaflops, while eating only 1,400 watts.

A couple of companies have dabbled with the so-called personal supercomputers. Most notably, start-up Orion shipped a system with close to 100 Transmeta processors that could slide under an engineer's desk and plug into a standard wall outlet. Orion, however, closed down in February due to financial and technological issues.

Despite Orion's problems, a number of industry pundits – including Bill Gates – have called for personal supercomputers that can give engineers and researchers massive amounts of horsepower right at their desks. Rather than splitting time on larger clusters or divvying up processing jobs, each engineer can theoretically have their own box to crank through code.

Tyan believes its slick, cool and quiet design will prove attractive to end users – attractive enough to demand the new OEM division.

The company plans to promote Windows Computer Cluster Server 2003 for the systems but will sell Linux (Red Hat and SuSE) as well. Some of its other hardware and software partners include Platform, Wolfram, and Mellanox.

A Woodcrest version of the Typhoon system will start at around $11,000, while a fully-stacked version of the personal cluster with the best chips on the market will top out at $25,000. ®

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