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SGI Busts into Linux with 64-Processor Scalability - page 2

Breaking the Eight-Processor Ceiling

  • January 7, 2003
  • By Brian Proffitt

So if SGI was able to blow past the supposed eight-processor limit, what was that limit all about?

A lot of what was perceived as a processor limitation in Linux was actually, Snell explained, more of an instance of what other hardware vendors wanted more than a real limitation. The companies making the claims that Linux could not scale well past such-and-such number of processors were also the same companies that have their own high-end lines of software/hardware combinations, many of them proprietary. Promoting Linux for really high-end needs, Snell explained, would cut into HP's or IBM's high-end sales.

"So, they really weren't putting in the work on their architectures," Snell said.

SGI's Sr. VP of Marketing Jan Silverman agreed, and added that SGI did not have such an internal conflict, because they are not offering any other operating system to run on the Altix 3000 line of servers: Linux is it.

So what about conflict with SGI's existing IRIX on MIPS line? Would a Linux/Itanium offering potentially encroach on those sales?

Not really, Silverman said. Because of the disparate capabilities of IRIX and Linux, he does not see much overlap between the two lines for customers to agonize about. The SGI customer, he said, will know what they need in terms of an operating system. Since SGI will continue to target only its core markets, it is in a strong position to know what their customers need.

In physical and life sciences, Silverman explained, Linux is becoming very popular as a high-performance computing platform. In the energy sector, which needs more visualization-based processing, IRIX will likely remain the OS of choice, though for non-visual computations, such as reservoir simulations, Linux could find a niche. Silverman also expects Linux to sell well in the manufacturing and government sectors, and IRIX to remain popular in the media and defense verticals.

SGI, he added, was in a unique position, because all of the research and development costs that go into the architecture for the Linux/Itanium servers also goes into the IRIX/MIPS servers. Because these costs are shared, SGI wins no matter which server line is purchased.

"We're really letting the customer decide," Silverman said.

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