Updated: Dreamworks back to using Silicon Graphics

Silicon Graphics News
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Update: I’ve just had an email from Cerelink Digital Media Group with some clarification. Apparently, while they are using NMCAC resource to explore ‘cloud computing’ and commercial provisioning, Dreamworks will not be using Encanto as part of this. Instead Cerelink DMG will be building out compute clusters for Dreamworks based on HP blades. Interesting – I’ve emailed Cerelink and asked them for some more information, which I’ll post up here when I have it.

Truly. After their brief affair with HP, Dreamworks have gone back to using SGI hardware. Although not in the way you might think ….

A while ago Silicon Graphics install a big Altix ICE system at the New Mexico Computing Applications Center. The machine was nicknamed Encanto, and currently has 14,336 Xeon processor cores and 28TB of memory.

Encanto is housed at Intel’s facility in Rio Rancho. Encanto is one of (if the not the) world’s largest non-government machines, and in fact has been funded by a unique mix of private-public money. This gives some flexibility on how it’s used – at the moment, The University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and New Mexico Tech all have first say on jobs running on the box. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory, which are also located in New Mexico, are also partners in the Encanto system, and so also get access.

It seems Dreamworks have been working an IT company called Cerelink Digital Media Group, who are setting up access and reselling compute time on Encanto.

A bit roundabout, but Dreamworks are indeed back on SGI kit. Perhaps more importantly, this sort of deal is just going to be the tip of the iceberg. As we move forward, more and more organisations are going to be renting time on their large machines and clusters, ensuring that they’re generating revenue and operating most efficiently round the clock.

Sun’s Darkstar project is the first direct from a vendor to commercialise this sort of activity, and again – we’ll be seeing everyone moving to this model in the future.

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Silicon Graphics announces Q1 2009 results

Silicon Graphics News
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Silicon Graphics have just announced their Q1 2009 financial results. Revenue and operating expenses are both down compared to Q4 2008, but are both up compared to Q1 2008.

Pro-forma results though show a loss of $7 million for Q1 2009, compared to a loss o $3 million for Q4 2008 and $3.8 million for Q1 2008.

With Sun’s recent financial results as well, it’s clear that this quarter is a less than stellar one for R&D heavy tech firms. The real test will be to see how both Sun and SGI perform in the next quarter, as the knock on effects of the credit crisis really start to bite.

With the launch of VUE and good sales of the Oracle datawarehouse solution based on Altix 450s, I think Silicon Graphics could make some good sales in the next quarter. An upcoming restructuring of the Global Developer Program and the continued push to get ISVs and IHVs on board is really going to help here – and, to be honest, it’s something they should have been doing years ago.

The lack of focus on large scale database systems for business basically meant Silicon Graphics handed the datacentre on a plate to Sun, who stepped in with the E10k and the awesome F15k.

You can also find an entire transcript of the conference call online at http://seekingalpha.com/article/104042-silicon-graphics-q1-2009-earnings-call-transcript

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Misleading benchmarks from Sun

Performance, Silicon Graphics News
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I suppose I should be resigned to the whole benchmark silliness, where vendors highly tune their own systems and then run favourable benchmark tools – that have no real-world relevance – and compare the results against dissimilar and un-tuned gear from their rivals.

It’s the biggest ego match in the industry, and it’s all pretty sad. Are people really naive enough to buy kit based on these benchmarks, instead of trying out different vendors’ solutions in-house using their own real world workloads?

Regardless, I find the latest press release from Sun touting their ‘HPC leadership’ a bit much.

In it, Sun cites SGI beating FLUENT benchmarks. Yet, the press release doesn’t mention numbers at all. The link to the actual FLUENT benchmarks shows no values at all for the X2250 cluster Sun used, and the main Sun benchmarks website makes no mention of these ‘HPC dominating’ benchmark figures either. Surely if you’re going to trumpet the results, then you should also be making the actual figures available?

bmseer (a blogger from Sun who I have a huge respect for, and who regularly picks apart the outrageous benchmark figures from IBM) should be hanging his head in shame right about now ;-)

Regardless, the Sun benchmark site is well worth a visit at http://www.sun.com/benchmarks/

Silicon Graphics could take a leaf out of Sun’s book here and be far more pro-active and upfront with their current systems’ performance figures.

Meanwhile I live in hope for the day when we have a benchmark that measures the enormity of a vendor’s lies in their press releases. Like the Top 500, I’m sure IBM would be way out in front.

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