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DRC unleashes Opteron super booster

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One-time FPGA wunderkind DRC Computer has taken its sweet time bringing product to market. The start-up just this week released a proper production version of its Opteron-socket ready FGPA, although the hardware remains aimed at yesteryear's Opteron-based servers.

We first wrote about DRC more than a year ago, touting its FPGA (field programmable gate array) as a means of giving certain applications a major boost. The Silicon Valley-based start-up continues to hammer away at this play, drawing the attention of high performance computing, oil and gas and financial types.

Thus far, DRC has only sold development systems. As you would expect, it needed to give coders time to tweak their software for the FPGAs that plug directly into Opteron sockets. Now, however, DRC has a commercial product ready for purchase - the unappetizingly named RPU110-L200.

Sadly, the RPU (Reconfigurable Processor Unit) is only certified to work with a single Tyan motherboard. It's a two-socket box based on AMD's Rev E socket. DRC expects to have a Rev F product out by the fourth quarter. The new RPUs cost $9,500 each in volume (100 units) purchases.

DRC competes against XtremeData on the Opteron socket-ready FPGA front and against SRC Computers, which has similar acceleration gear.

"The RPU110-L200 features on-board DDR2 memory, any of three HyperTransport bus interfaces and the largest FPGAs on the market, including the Xilinx VirtexTM-4 LX160, and Virtex-4 LX200 FPGAs," DRC said in a statement. "The RPU110-L200 enables greater application acceleration in three ways: first, with three times more compute resources in the L200, more of any given application can run on the RPU; second, with 2GB of on-board RPU memory plus the 8GB of motherboard memory, the RPU110-L200 delivers more than 17GB/second of system memory bandwidth, three times the stand-alone CPU bandwidth; and third, up to 3.2GB of usable system bus bandwidth is now available."

These FPGAs can show dramatic software speed-ups for certain routines, while consuming far less power than a standard processor.

Intel is working to get similar gear ready for Xeon-based servers. ®

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