LINUXWORLD: Clusters to benefit from 64-bit Intel chips

The arrival of next-generation Itanium chips from Intel will take Linux clustering to a whole new level, according to Songnian Zhou, the CTO of Toronto-based Platform Computing Inc.

During a panel discussion titled "Clustering for High-Performance Computing" here at LinuxWorld Thursday, Zhou said that "by default, the majority of future computing environments will be Linux clusters," a trend that will be driven "especially when 64-bit commodity chips from Intel arrive."

Those 64-bit commodity chips will be Intel's McKinley processor, a second-generation Itanium chip and the first fully mature 64-bit chip of the Itanium family. McKinley is expected to launch later this year, according to Intel.

Much of the success of Linux in running clustered server environments will be based on how well the open-source operating system performs on inexpensive, commodity chips from Intel, Zhou said. Because server clusters can be scaled out to thousands of server nodes, having an OS that runs well on inexpensive components such as Intel chips makes sense to the bottom line, he said.

"Linux makes it affordable to have very large systems because you can use commodity components," Zhou said.

Itanium chips, such as McKinley, support Linux code and can process data twice as fast as Intel's established line of 32-bit processors, meaning 64-bit Intel chips will bring even greater processing power to Linux clusters, Zhou explained.

Moderating the discussion, Debra Goldfarb, group vice president of worldwide systems and servers at IDC in Framingham, Mass., cautioned that although Intel chips do yield savings in clustered environments, the sheer mass of a large server cluster presents management challenges that bring their own expenses.

"There is still an inherent cost to this environment. We don't want anyone to get the wrong expectation of what it costs to deploy [a clustered Linux] environment," Goldfarb said. "You'll have a more efficient and more scalable environment [with a Linux cluster], but there is still overhead."

Goldfarb said Linux server clusters built by scientific and research institutes can be as large as multiple thousands of server nodes, but the average size Linux cluster in the industry today runs about 50 to 75 server nodes.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Neel

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?