Pork-stuffed Cray parades CEO and product
Slow smoked profit
The company has been pushing on with its XT4 Opteron-based system rollout.
“We have sold out of our inventory,” Ungaro said. “It has been a huge success for us.”
The system can reach more than 100,000 processors and will take the four-core Opteron when it's ready in the middle of 2007.
Later this year, Cray will also ship its Vector-based BlackWidow system and then the odd XMT unit.
The XMT builds on Cray's Tera (MTA) technology and was constructed once again with funds from an unnamed government partner. The chips in the XMT box plug right into Opteron sockets and can eat up 128 software threads each. Pack the XMT with 8,000 processors, and you get a box capable of 1m threads.
It's supposed that the Feds will use the system for pattern matching across huge sets of data. Cray also hopes that businesses will pick up the gear for similar tasks, but it's no so sure how this pitch will be received.
“I call XMT our wild card,” Ungaro said. “Let's just say it stays in its niche. It is partially funded from an R&D standpoint. It's not a big gamble for us, and it has a lot of upside.”
In 2009, Cray begins the “Cascade era” where it will start merging disparate processor technology around a common architecture. The company wants to ship Opteron, Vector, FPGA and massively-multithreaded technology in the same box. Baker will be the first product in this line.
To pull off Cascade, Cray must still design custom compilers that split up applications and send the right code to the right kind of processor. Cray also plans to keep beavering away on a standard version of Linux for its boxes and a lightweight version that's more scalable on the high-end kit.
Close to 250 of Cray's 800 staff work on software at this time.
Despite Intel's recent revelations about a homegrown competitor to AMD's Hypertransport, Cray sees no need to go the Xeon route.
“There may be a time when we also build systems around Intel processors in addition to those from AMD,” Ungaro said. “So far, there has not been a compelling reason to do that.”
Other than a possible Xeon embrace, Cray has no major shockers in store for customers that it's willing to discuss.
“We are trying not be surprising,” Ungaro said. “When customers are spending multiple millions of dollars on a machine, they appreciate that consistency.” ®
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