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Sun Aims High With Constellation Blade-Based System

Sun Microsystems on Tuesday is expected to demonstrate its high-performance computing platform that includes a high-density, rack-size blade server chassis and all the other components needed for an out-of-the-box supercomputer.

Sun showed off the Sun Constellation System, a peta-scale computing environment, at the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden, Germany. Among the platform's advantages, according to Sun, is the technology's use of open standards, fewer cables, higher density, and a pay-as-you-go licensing model.

"We tried to take all of the pieces that customers traditionally use to deliver a high-performance (server) cluster, and put them into a packaged product that you can buy off the shelf, so to speak," Michael McNerney, director of Sun's blade server product line, said. "The idea is to simplify the customer's environment, and to assemble all the pieces in one place, rather than buy them from different vendors and then integrate the technologies."

In terms of density, the system packs a maximum of 1.7 petaflops of computing power in a 48-blade rack-size chassis that weighs 500 pounds less, and has a 20% smaller footprint than conventional rack/chassis combos, according to Sun. Part of the reduction in size and weight is due to a 6 to 1 reduction in cables in ports.

The blades run the OpenSolaris operating system on Sun Sparc, Advanced Micro Devices Opteron, or Intel Xeon microprocessors. The platform can run general-purpose software, and includes four InfiniBand Leaf Switch Network Express Modules.

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