Feeds

SGI's Rackable's future supercomputers

Goodbye Itanium, hello Nehalem

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Mysteries remain

Why SGI didn't launch NUMAflex for x64 servers is a mystery, but I suspect that SGI knew that QPI was coming for both Xeon and Itanium processors and was waiting for that to come to pass before making the switch. Such a switch was expected several years ago, but was pushed out by Intel.

Why SGI didn't realize it could be burned by Intel product delays - considering that it was an early supporter of Itanium - and therefore port NUMAflex to server nodes using Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices is another mystery.

I've continually badgered SGI's execs about this, and they've been steadfast in their devotion to Itanium - right up until the second the Altix ICE machines were launched. And they were quiet about their future Itanium support right up to today's third bankruptcy filing.

Although SGI announced it had two-socket Nehalem EP blades for its Altix ICE clusters for sale as part of the Xeon 5500 launch, it didn't say anything about marrying Nehalem processors with NUMAflex.

But that has to be the plan, since no other plan makes any damned sense at all. A cluster of Nehalem EP server nodes with 21TB of shared global memory is something that SGI should be able to sell.

In his statement, Ewald reminded everyone that Rackable has lots of cash and would reduce SGI's debts, some of which it will assume as part of the acquisition of assets that will follow the Chapter 11 resolution. As Rackable's fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 (ended January 3 of this year) came to a close, the company had $171.9m in cash. Mark Barrenechea, Rackable's CEO, said that the company would spend up to one-tenth of that cash on additional research, development, marketing, and sales to chase new markets, such as the HPC sector.

Considering that Rackable has canceled its share buybacks, that leaves something like $57m to play with, and the SGI cash price only eats up half of that cash.

But the deal is perhaps more complex than that.

In SGI's second fiscal quarter, which ended in December, the company had $36.1m in cash and equivalents and $157.4m in long-term debt. SGI had $526.5m in total liabilities and $390.5m in assets. I'm no bankruptcy lawyer, but the Chapter 11 filing seems aimed at lowering the amount of liabilities that Rackable assumes.

You can bet that Rackable wants to conserve all the cash it can - hence it didn't simply buy the company outright.

And while the deal is open for competitive bidding, it is hard to imagine anyone else coming in right now. IBM is busy with its Sun acquisition, and Sun is busy with IBM. Hewlett-Packard is already up to its ears in server architectures, has all that Convex goodness in its Integrity machines, and wants to sell big Integrity boxes to HPC customers who want lots of memory for apps to play in.

It's a pity that Integrities don't support Nehalem, eh? Whoops, again..

Other players are equally unlikely to bid. Dell doesn't think it needs anything more sophisticated than two-socket x64 boxes and an occasional four-socket machine. Fujitsu is distracted by its integration of Siemens' IT biz and its partnership with Sun. Hitachi and NEC, which know all about Itanium, seem to be aloof about HPC except in their home markets. Verari Systems, which most resembles Rackable among x64 server makers, did not go public as Rackable did a few years back and may not have the cash.

Looks like Rackable wins.

But what it wins is somewhat unclear. Both Rackable's and SGI's sales have been so choppy in the past several quarters - thanks in large part to the ongoing Meltdown - that it's hard to make any prediction about what the revenue stream and profit potential might be for a Rackable boosted by SGI's products and customer base.

A lot seems to be hanging on that UltraViolet supercomputer, which needed to be here yesterday.

Well, on Monday, actually - but it wasn't. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.