Cyclone – SGI’s Technical Compute Cloud

Silicon Graphics News
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It seems SGI has joined everyone and their dog in jumping on the cloud bandwagon. SGI have just announced Cyclone, their Cloud Computing offering for technical and HPC computing.

The offering is non virtualised (what’s called “single tenancy”) which addresses the main stumbling block to using cloud compute resources for HPC – the overhead of that virtualisation layer. The other stumbling block – how to actually get your data onto the cloud – is addressed by being able to ship drives of data direct to SGI, who will preload it into your compute instance for you.

On the hardware side, Cyclone offers a nice possibility of “try before buy” for compute customers, with SGI’s entire product range available, packed with some GPU and accelerator goodness:

The SGI technology at Cyclone’s core is comprised of some of the world’s fastest supercomputing hardware architectures, including SGI® Altix® scale-up, Altix® ICE scale-out and Altix® XE hybrid clusters, all based on Intel® Xeon® or Itanium® processors. The hybrid architecture offers either NVIDIA® Tesla GPUs or AMD FireStream™ GPU compute accelerators for floating point double precision workloads, and Tilera accelerators for integer workloads. High performance SGI InfiniteStorage systems are available for scratch space and long-term archival of customer data.

Itanium and x86 offerings would offer customers a great way to port their apps from Itanium and onto the new Altix UV platform. But I’m sure SGI would never have done that intentionally. Ahem.

On the software side, SGI will be pre-installing many commonly used technical computing applications:

With Cyclone’s SaaS (Software as a Service) model, SGI delivers access to leading-edge open source applications and best-of-breed commercial software platforms from top Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). Supported applications include: OpenFOAM, NUMECA, Acusolve, LS-Dyna, Gaussian, Gamess, NAMD, Gromacs, LAMMPS, BLAST, FASTA, HMMER, ClustalW and OntoStudio. SGI expects to add additional domains and applications partners over time

SGI are mixing it up with Penguin and NewServers, coming in at a higher price but arguably offering more value by pre-loading software, and enabling users to migrate to in-house SGI hardware later on down the line. Costs are also high compared to Amazon, but really, I can’t see anyone putting HPC or technical compute apps on Amazon’s offering.

You can read more in SGI’s press release here.

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