HP puts supercomputer in a 'Shorty'

Near-teraflop performance for medium-sized businesses.

HP has revealed its take on the "personal supercomputing" trend on Tuesday in the form of the Cluster Platform Workgroup System, based on the recently introduced BladeSystem c3000.

Systems of this kind are being sold by a number of specialized vendors, the idea being to allow medium-sized businesses to handle workloads usually associated with enterprises, such as designing and modelling prototypes or analyzing complex financial systems.

The c3000, nicknamed "Shorty", was introduced last month, combining elements of a modular server and a blade server enclosure. It is aimed specifically at smaller organizations such as branch offices, with power supplies suitable for standard wall outlets, integrated network cables, simplified management tools and other features.

The new, modified version keeps the focus on medium-sized businesses, but is intended for HPC (high-performance computing) tasks in sectors such as computer-aided engineering, oil and gas, financial services and the sciences.

The tower-shaped enclosure delivers nearly a teraflop per second of computing power while taking up two square feet of floor space and filling a 6U rack profile, according to HP. It was launched at the Supercomputing 2007 trade show in Reno, Nevada.

Customers can buy the Shorty cluster configured for particular types of workloads, including servers, interconnects, storage, power and cooling management, operating system, middleware and cluster management software.

One such configuration, intended for materials sciences, includes Accelrys Materials Studio software and Linux, while a package aimed at computer-aided engineering is based on Ansys Fluent CFD and Windows Compute Cluster Server.

The Cluster Platform Workgroup System is available immediately. Pricing varies depending on the configuration needed; a standard Shorty system tested by Techworld came with a list price of £11,109 (AU$25,371).

At the same time, HP introduced the ProLiant DL160 G5 rack server, also aimed at medium-sized companies with HPC needs. The server uses an Intel 5400 chipset supporting quad-core processors, and will be available during the first quarter of 2008, with pricing starting below £724.

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Matthew Broersma

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