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HP plots path to server accelerator madness in '08

Radical conservatism

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The likes of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! And Amazon don't meet the classic HPC model, but they certainly seem closer to national labs than corporate types with their $500m-$600m data centers packed with thousands of servers and storage systems.

With that in mind, HP is engaging in internal discussions about how to handle mega data center types.

The company has discussed creating specialized low-power servers with under-achieving memory and cheap disks in a bid to cater to the mega data center set. Dell does something similar today for large orders through a custom data center program. In addition, Rackable Systems has met the needs of folks such as Microsoft and Amazon through its low-power systems.

As it turns out, a lot of Rackable's historical business has come through a reselling-type partnership with HP. Now, HP may go ahead and lead these efforts on its own.

"I don't want to pre-announce anything," Turkel said. "We are certainly looking at those markets and how we might be able to satisfy them."

While HP won't preannounce much of anything, it will talk about existing HPC wins.

We know. You're shocked.

The US, Western Europe and Japan have treated HP well to date in the supercomputer arena and now HP wants to tap into the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations with its fanciest gear.

HP has expressed its BRIC enthusiasm by pointing us – and consequently you – to a new list of China's top supercomputers. As it turns out, HP dominates the list, although IBM, as usual, has the top box.

HP's overall HPC play marks a continued trend to "balance" R&D work with partnerships.

You'll see IBM and Sun Microsystems at one of the spectrum building things such as their own chips, switches and file systems. And then Dell slots in at the other end of the spectrum by partnering in most cases and taking a wait and see approach to which bits and bobs take off.

HP proves more willing than Dell to stomach risk in the HPC game and is aggressive about partnering with start-ups, since this is the only way a company unwilling to invest as much R&D money as in the past can stay on the cutting-edge.

It's a sort of radical conservatism that appears to be serving HP will to date. ®

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