Microsoft and Cray Unveil the Cheapest Supercomputer

September 16th, 2008 at 12:00 am

cray cx1 supercomputer

Supercomputers are a different breed from the usual desktop or laptop you’re currently viewing this blog on.  Supercomputers are at least a hundred times faster than any regular Pc in terms of computing speed.  How they do those measurement escapes me but I suppose that a supercomputer will take less time to compute a math problem.

Anyway,  supercomputers are usually found in Universities or NASA or the Pentagon or Government Agencies or corporations that require super reliable computing power.  Basically, a supercomputer was never in the mainstream simply because it was big and expensive and pointless for everyday use or even small to medium enterprise (SME) use.

That’s all about to change.  Cray and Microsoft have teamed up and made a mainstream Supercomputer server.  They call it the Cray CX1, powered by Intel Xeon processors Windows Server HPC and Linux.  The CX1 server is aimed towards mainstream SME’s and even large enterprises.

Cray and Microsoft released a statement detailing the CX1 and their partnership.    Here are some snippets that describe the machine and its mainstream applications.

Studies released by the Council on Competitiveness and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) found that nearly all large firms using HPC consider it indispensable for their ability to compete and survive, but smaller companies, as well as workgroups and departments in larger firms, have been hampered by the cost of HPC systems and a lack of access to in-house experts to help them use these systems.

The Cray CX1 supercomputer was designed from the ground up to address these barriers. It is the most affordable supercomputer ever offered by Cray and is designed to be easy to purchase, deploy, operate and upgrade. Purpose-built for offices, laboratories and university departments, the Cray CX1 is the world’s highest-performing computer that uses standard office power.

The Cray CX1 product incorporates up to 8 nodes and 16 Intel Xeon processors, either dual or quad core; delivers up to 64 gigabytes of memory per node; and provides up to 4 terabytes of internal storage. Systems can be configured with a mix of compute, storage and visualization blades to meet customers’ individual requirements. The quiet, deskside supercomputer features Windows HPC Server 2008 and interoperates with Linux. A three-year warranty with next-day, on-site Cray-certified support is standard.

So how cheap is cheap?  Well, the CX1 goes off the shelf starting at $25000 only, that includes the OS,warranty and the service.