SGI Gains Prestigious Win With Leading University

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

SGI has gained a prestigious customer win after a leading UK university decided to improve its HPC capabilities with one of its supercomputers

A leading UK university has decided to improve its HPC (high performance computing) capabilities after selecting a supercomputer from SGI, namely the Altix ICE 8200 EX.

The decision is something of a coup for SGI, as Imperial College London is a science-based institution that is widely regarded as one of the leading universities in the world. Apparently it was looking for an advanced computing solution for students and researchers to conduct coursework and research (such as computational fluid dynamics, and weather and ocean modelling) that depend on extremely complex process modelling.

The college opted for the SGI dual-rail Infiniband supercomputer, Altix ICE 8200 EX, which uses the latest Intel Xeon Nehalem processors.

The supercomputer will act as Imperial’s high-end HPC system. The new system will also act as a stepping stone to the UK’s national academic supercomputer service HECToR (High End Computing Terascale Resources).

“Due to the complex nature of the target applications, speed, performance and low latency are critical factors for our HPC users,” said Simon Burbidge, HPC coordination manager at Imperial College London. “The new SGI installation has proven to perform very well across these attributes and will enable researchers at the university to tackle larger, more difficult problems than ever before.”

No pricing details were revealed, nor was the actual size of the installation, but it seems that SGI will provide dedicated in-house application expertise to the university to help port and optimise key codes onto the new SGI architecture.

The Altix ICE supercomputer comes with integrated blade architecture, and supports extremely high densities – up to 512 processor cores in a single rack. It can also be scaled to thousands of nodes.

The Imperial contract represents a significant customer win for SGI, previously known as Rackable Systems.

Rackable announced back in April that it was acquiring bankrupt systems maker SGI for about $42.5 million (£27.8m). It quickly gained approval for the deal and, in May, Rackable decided to capitalise on SGI’s famous name by renaming itself Silicon Graphics International.