“One of Linux’s supposed barriers in high performance computing is the ‘eight processor limit.’ SGI says their new Altix 3000 line, running a patched 2.4.19 kernel, handily breaks this barrier — it can run up to 64 Intel Itanium 2 microprocessers — and that “superclusters” built with SGI’s Linux-based products can outperform generic Linux clusters in some applications by a large enough margin to justify their additional cost.” Read the full article at NewsForge.
Can Linux Help Save SGI?
2003-01-08 SGI and IRIX 30 Comments
That’s my opinion.
i suppose apple could buy sgi, but that would require macos to be ported to itanium 2. Correct? Apple has not be a big multiplatform company.
SGI got itself “Belluzo’d” to death. The moron was so incompetant he wound up at Microsoft– and couldn’t even hack it there!
Forget SGI– Apple should buy Real Networks– and make their crummy but widely used Real codec better by adding it to Quicktime’s native formats. That way we could all delete Real player.
I was in fact wondering if I need all these: qhicktime, Windows Media Player and RealOne. Too much, one should go :o)
I found this writeup about Beluzzo and SGI somewhere:
Under the leadership of Rick Beluzzo, UNIX vendor Silicon Graphics expended a great deal of money and energy to offer a Microsoft Windows NT-based workstation for high performance graphics use of the kind required by the CAD/CAM, television and motion picture industries. After continual disappointment with instability and poor performance, the now-financially crippled SGI abandoned Microsoft Windows NT. Beluzzo soon left SGI for an executive position at Microsoft in an unrelated field of responsibility, while SGI returned to their highly touted IRIX version of UNIX
Note that SGI is still hemorraging money and had to sell Cray to Tera Tech in order to raise some cash. SGI has four quarters in a row of negative total stockholer equity, which I didn’t know was even possible.
***Under the leadership of Rick Beluzzo, UNIX vendor Silicon Graphics expended a great deal of money and energy to offer a Microsoft Windows NT-based workstation for high performance graphics use of the kind required by the CAD/CAM, television and motion picture industries. After continual disappointment with instability and poor performance, the now-financially crippled SGI abandoned Microsoft Windows NT. Beluzzo soon left SGI for an executive position at Microsoft in an unrelated field of responsibility, while SGI returned to their highly touted IRIX version of UNIX ***
I think the same Beluzzo that left SGI, is the same one that left M$, who then actually commented on linux, in a more… positive manner.
So what’s your point?
Sorry, I didn’t know he made a positive comment on Linux!
What a loser.
Yes, unless I’m mistaken this is the first time we’ve seen Linux powering big iron (unless you’re so insolous as to count IBM’s zSeries, which could run Linux virtual server instances on top of zOS)
At this point I would like to ask: where’s the market base for this sort of system? Does a scraggly Linux zealot SA exist somewhere who has enough PO authority to buy a million dollar Linux system? Seriously, who would consider purchasing this system over, say, a SunFire 15k running an OS with a well designed, mature, and highly granular kernel designed to scale across this many processors?
This seems like a move that will make or break SGI, and in my opinion Linux isn’t going to fly among big iron customers. When you’re spending upwards of a million dollars on a server, it takes more than hype to sell a system, it takes a proven track record of performance and reliability.
Well, this is why SGI used linux: IT IS ALREADY THERE for IA64. So instead of having to port Irix to IA64, they just use an OS which actually is getting more and more acceptance.
If you want an OS that scales well, then they can offer Irix, if you need Linux or IA64, then they can offer that too. Basically it gains them market w/o having to port the whole Irix over to IA64.
This actually makes some sense, the machine can be sold cheaper since the same sun fire machine will carry a hefty license cost and it is not nearly as BW rich as the SGI offering. Since there are a few machines in the TOP20 already running linux, it turns out that this OS is actually pretty popular among HPC installations…. And many people are drooling about the prospect of having a machine like an SGI cc-NUMA with an opesource (i.e. we can actually go through the code) OS to boot with it.
The NT fiasco was actually a pattern in the life of Mr. Belluzo. He was part of HP before moving over to SGI, and he also said that HP-UX was dead long live NT! Which is nothing too smart to say when you have clients wondering if they should continue with HP-UX or not. Anyhow, he almost destroyed the company… he managed to get rid of the Logo (talking about stupid moves) and then he spent money and R&D resources on SGI’s NT fiasco. Many used to think that this guy was an actual M$ operative sent to destroy other companies.
Has Linux not earned such a track record? Compared to other offerings at this level of processing power, the price point is very attractive.
Just my opinions.
Sometimes I wish Apple would buy SGI (though I fear they’d kill Irix, which I wouldn’t like, but I just can’t see it happening. SGI’s market is perhaps too diverse for Apple these days.
SGI had an opportunity to really get their claws into Apple’s market with the Indy, which despite being a great machine failed.
Since the demise of the NT boxes (and maybe the O2) SGI effectively have no ‘low end’ machines, and I don’t know how well the Apple brand would do on big iron.
SGI’s move to Linux worries me as I don’t want to see them drop support for the Irix workstations.
As fo Real – I just wish people wold stop using it – it is so s**t it’s unbelievable.
“Has Linux not earned such a track record?”
No, it has not. This is the first time to my knowledge that Linux has been responsible for powering hardware of this caliber.
“Compared to other offerings at this level of processing power, the price point is very attractive.”
I think processing power isn’t as much a concern here as power dissipation. The operating costs of this thing must be astronomical. And seriously, if you’re spending $1.2 million on a computer, don’t you think it’d be best to spend the extra $.2 million to get a Sparc which will undoubtably have a lower TCO?
“Well, this is why SGI used linux: IT IS ALREADY THERE for IA64. So instead of having to port Irix to IA64, they just use an OS which actually is getting more and more acceptance.”
Yes, this has been SGI’s approach in the past… Irix for MIPS, and Linux for IA64. This was fine when they were selling (ugly looking) IA64 workstations.
However, we’re talking a million dollar IA64 server now, running an OS put together by a scraggly team of open source programmers. Let’s not forget that this thing is running a 2.4 kernel as well, which still contains the Big Kernel Lock in many of its subsystems.
“If you want an OS that scales well, then they can offer Irix, if you need Linux or IA64, then they can offer that too. Basically it gains them market w/o having to port the whole Irix over to IA64.”
Which brings me back to my original point… who needs a 64-way Linux machine? And who needs IA64? Wouldn’t you rather choose a processor architecture with more support and lower power dissipation and therefore a lower TCO?
“This actually makes some sense, the machine can be sold cheaper since the same sun fire machine will carry a hefty license cost…”
License for what? Solaris? Solaris is free…
“and it is not nearly as BW rich as the SGI offering.”
Umm, you don’t think Fireplane is “BW rich”? The overall system bandwidth of a SunFire 15k is 172.8 GB/s.
“No, it has not. This is the first time to my knowledge that Linux has been responsible for powering hardware of this caliber. ”
Uhh Linux390 has been around for years now, which is of far greater caliber than this. You should try to expand your knowledge a bit more (kidding). 😛
In recent SPECfp®_rate_base2000 tests, a 1GHz SGI Altix 3000 system generated world-record floating-point performance for a 64-processor server with a score of 862. The closest 64-processor single system image competitor was the HP SuperdomeTM server (at 875 MHz) with a score of 267.
seems like SGI has the edge in performance. the sun fire 6800 (the only one theyve tested on spec cpu2000) gets a base of 121 for 24 cpus. i know its not linear, but this gives roughly 363 for 72 CPUs. youre definately not going to get the FP performance out of a sun.
comparing the sun fire 15K to the SGI altix 3700, they are very similar but for the sun they stress I/O bandwidth and SGI stress memory bandwidth. the implication is that sun makes servers and SGI makes supercomputers. noone in their right mind would buy an altix for webserving any more than they would by a sun fire for doing CFD.
License for what? Solaris? Solaris is free…
it is? thats strange. but i think when youre spending $1.2-1.4 million on a server the licensing costs aren’t at the top of the agenda…
1.2 million to a linux user who uses linux because it is free.. Oh yea.. I cannot wait for the “nah this is to expensive, I can get 2000 Pentium IIs and run a beowulf cluster for less money” people to start harping on this.
Cheap Linux users? You mean like Industrial Light & Magic?
Well, Aitivo, you would benefit from your own advice: Linux on the IBM 390 is nothing else but multiple images of Linux running inside virtual machines created by the underlying OS which is.. VM. The OS that takes care of the hardware is actually VM, not Linux. Linux sees only one single image and processor. It’s the same as with the more classic VM/ESA combo from about 10 years (or more) ago. In fact, IBM used VM on big iron to develop and debug OS/2.
* While VM allows you to define up to 64 virtual S/390 processors per guest machine, LINUX for S/390 currently provides support for a maximum of 32 processors only.”
So, we have multiple images of Linux running on up to 32 virtual processors inside the VM. Sounds like I know what I am talking about, and you are speaking out of your ass.
Your opinion. Right… So what’s your opinion on how Apple can afford to buy SGI?
Who ever said Linux users where SGI target market? Read the article. Again. Current Irix and MIPS users would be migrated to I2 and Linux.
these are, indeed, multiple images of Linux, but each is running in one virtual machine.Running Linux in this fashion is nowhere near the challenge of running it directly on (for example) a NUMA architecture such as the Altix. As I said, even OS/2 ran on top of VM, and yet nobody is claiming that OS/2 has a proven track record of running on top hardware.
I am not talking out of my ass, as you say, I have actually been working on VM/ESA and VSE/ESA-configured IBM mainframes for two years.
” Linux sees only one single image and processor. ”
“While VM allows you to define up to 64 virtual S/390 processors per guest machine, LINUX for S/390 currently provides support for a maximum of 32 processors only.”
Just admit that you were wrong. 😛
A) Solaris is NOT FREE. I.e. read the actual license, Solaris 9 is only free when used on single CPU systems. The cost per CPU for Solaris quickly scalates for large CPU systems (i.e. a Fire machine)
B) If you do not like Linux, well buy an IRIX based Origin 3×00 and there you go, an industrial strength system if you like. Plus the kernel that this machine uses is a highly
C) The FIRE machines are not in the same class as this machine, they have not comparable internode BW and latency… and the streams results will show that. If SGI could produce this machine at a lower price point, they would have a killer machine. In any case look at the top500 machines and see how many machines are now Linux based, whether or not Linux is an OS which is suited for HPC is pretty much irrelevant now… it is here and we use it, accept it. The reason why users like me would like to develop HPC apps for linux is simple, I don’t know if Irix or Solaris will be here tomorrow (nice economic recesion we are having), but I for sure know that linux is not owned by any specific manufacturer so I may count on linux to be around for a while.
As I said this is just a cheaper way for SGI to expand its possible market share. They would have to spend a serious amount of RD money to get irix ported over IA64 and they are having more and more trouble developing competitive MIPS incarnations. Not that I particularly like IA64, and I still think that Irix is the superior OS…
The reason why users like me would like to develop HPC apps for linux is simple, I don’t know if Irix or Solaris will be here tomorrow (nice economic recesion we are having), but I for sure know that linux is not owned by any specific manufacturer so I may count on linux to be around for a while.
That’s exactly the reason why so many CIOs were declaring the death of UNIX and the victory of Windows NT, back in the day: microsoft can never die, Window NT may be shitty but it’s here to stay etc. And actually, they were right that NT will be around for a long time (it’s still around), but UNIX is still alive and kicking. And so it will be in the near future, even with the Linux making inroads from left and right.. after all is said and done, UNIX will still be around, humbly doing what it it does.
Linux on mainframes can run in three ways:
1. on top of the VM OS in a virtual machine
2. on a logical, machine-level partition known as an LPAR, where the Linux kernel gets direct control of part of the mainframe.
3. as the sole OS on the mainframe, with direct and total control over it.
To Bascule and Mario: whenever I’ve seen you people talking of Linux, it’s always been in derogatory terms. Open your eyes: Linux is not perfect by any means, still a lot of good things have come out of it. We’re discussing technology here, where logic should prevail over emotion. Your hatred of what is no more than a piece of software gives, to me, some insight into why there’s strife wherever there are humans: bias, clanishness and xenophobia, unfairness, asymmetry of behaviour where we want others to be fair and just towards us while often not returning the favour. The preach is over.
Have you ever seen Monty Python and the search for the Holy Grail? I just keep seeing SGI as the pesant saying, “I’m not dead yet, I feel happy.” Let’s face it, most of us thought SGI was dead. The MIPS is one of the slowest chips on the planet so it is increasingly hard to sell Origin servers and whatever workstations. The NT fiasco left SGI broke and hobbling. Cray didn’t sit well in the stomach, so it got thrown up.
If this machine is half as good as they claim it will be a coup. $1 million is not a lot of money for the people this machine is being sold to. Oil companies, nulcear weapons testing, drug research, climate forcating, crash simulation, etc, etc. These guys have serious money. Cost is a secondary factor to capability.
My question is how much has SGI had to modify Linux to work on a 64 way NUMA system. Last I saw Linux (2.4.x) had trouble on an 8 way. I’m pretty sure NUMA support is not in the mainstream kernel. Will SGI be able to get this blessed by Linus or will they have to constantly re-port their work to new versions of the kernel?
In any case I am certainly impressed. Best of luck to them.
Just because Linux can run on the zSeries as in points 2. and 3., it doesn’t mean it does anything useful.
IBMs whitepaper on the usage of Linux on their mainframes, in fact, mentions only the scenario under point 1.
See for yourself:
My question is how much has SGI had to modify Linux to work on a 64 way NUMA system. Last I saw Linux (2.4.x) had trouble on an 8 way.
theoretically, 2.4 was scalable to 32 processors, but problems in scheduling and the so-called “Big Kernel Lock” meant that is couldnt practically scale over 4-8 processors.
ingo’s O(1) scheduler (backported to 2.4) and the low-latency and lock-break patches probably improve this without SGI doing anything.
SGI mainly concentrated on NUMA support, process accounting (linux is sloppy at this) and “process aggregates”. you can see all their kernel work at http://oss.sgi.com/projects/ and an overview of their master plan at http://toolbox.sgi.com/linux/documents/DevNews/d-hpc_linux-q3_00.ht…
Supercomputing + High End GFX == Money => my fixed salary => i am careless about SGI (ours) financial status