SC06: Jeff's Blog - Day 2 (Monday Gala)

Published on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 02:04
Written by Jeff Layton
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Monday Nov. 13, 2006, was the "gala" opening when all the exhibitors try to out-do one another with cool booths, giveaways, loud speakers, and other bold and many times obnoxious attempts to gain attention. Gala night at SC06 was no different. :)

So little time....

Monday night was Gala opening night, in case you didn't read the opening paragraph. It was short - 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. - thank god because these nights are usually intense. SC06 was no exception. It's tough to keep your energy up, see old friends, learn what's new, try to score some food, attend parties, and then get up early and blog about it :) But I'm trying my best and I'm writing this blog early on Tuesday. [And if the editor is equally busy he does not get it posted until Friday]

So the gala came and went with just above a whimper. I was surprised at how subdued it was. The floor didn't seem that busy despite the smaller venue. While many of the attendees were in line at the various food tables or trying to buy $5 drinks, it didn't seem to make up for what I think is low attendance (is there such as thing as "dark matter attendees" - this might explain some things). The food was, ahem, interesting. I ate these shrimp tarts with pineapple and green onion were a bit weird. However I did manage to find some egg rolls and something that looked like chicken fingers, but I'm not sure. However, the good food was in the back of the show floor with huge lines. Microsoft was good enough to sponsor it (it wasn't for them, the food would have been a little skimpy).

As I mentioned there was so little time to wander the floor while I also worked my "day" job which meant I had to be in the booth being one of the ubiquitous "booth babes" (people have said I bear a striking resemblance to Brad Pitt). So I didn't get to see much. On Tuesday I'll try to wander the floor a bit more. However, I did get to see some things that I thought were really cool.

Tyan Typhoon

The first thing I wanted to track down and see was Tyan's new Typhoon Personal SuperComputer (PSC). Tyan originally developed a basic small cluster called Typhoon that took 4 motherboards and put them vertically into a small cabinet. It was a nice little box, but it was lacking a few things such as a good head node (you couldn't really put a good graphics card on one of the nodes), high performance networking (believe it or not, there are some people who want to run Infiniband on 4 nodes and there are some applications that will take advantage of it). So Tyan introduced what I called the Typhoon2 which is really called the Typhoon T-630 DX and T-650 QX. The DX model takes dual-core Intel Woodcrest CPUs and the QX takes quad-core Intel Clovertown CPUs. This machine is better engineered that the original Typhoon (IMHO). It has a head node that can handle a real graphics card and storage, and it has 4 compute nodes below it. So altogether it has 10 CPU sockets. So in the case of Woodcrest you can have 20 cores and in the case of Clovertown you can have up to 40 cores. But, one of the most important things is that the Typhoon plugs into a single circuit (1400W max power) so you can safely put it underneath your desk (plus it will keep your feet warm in the winter). I need to stop by Tyan's booth today to get the low-down on the box, but it looks to be a winner in my eyes. Tyan had several on show floor - one in their booth, one in Intel's booth, and one in the Microsoft booth. I'm hoping that Doug and I get to review one for ClusterMonkey in the near future. We've been salivating over them for some time. More on the Typhoon later, including some pictures. In the meantime, the Inquirer has some more details (it appears that they like as much as I do).

Cray

Cray made some big announcements about some new giant machines. The XT4 and XMT. The XT4 is, in my opinion, a rev-ed version of the XT3. It now uses AMD Socket F processors (up to 30,000 of them) that are dual-core and will be able to go quad-core in the future. Cray also rev-ed the interconnect chip, called Seastar2, that is HTX based for better throughput. The XMT is the next version of the MTA threaded machine (I think the MTA parent company actually bought Cray and kept the Cray name for the new combined company). Cray developed the XMT using AMD's Torrenza initiative that allows new chips to be plugged into the Hypertransport bus. The system can handle up to 8,000 chips and each chip can handle up to 128 threads for a grand total of over 1,000,000 threads. So if you like the threaded architecture you need to start learning OpenMPI PDQ.

I'm sorry but that's all I have for today. As I mentioned it was a long day of booth duty so I didn't get around as much as I would have liked to. Tuesday will be different and I hope to have much more to write about for Tuesday's blog. I also hope to figure out how to upload pictures without a card reader. Maybe someone on the floor has a card reader...