Making Workstations "Cool" Again

August 26th, 2009 10:19 am
Posted by Ian Miller
Tags: , , , , ,

Remember when your workstation was a serious piece of equipment? It was the primary tool of the engineer or scientist. Today’s slimmed-down "workstations" are multi-purpose systems that are used for gaming as much as actual work.

This has created a chasm between the workstation and its natural upgrade path - the cluster. They operate in different worlds – one is often running Windows, the other Linux. One is managed by the user or department, and the other controlled by IT. One is normally freely available to the individual while the other is dependent on a queue of users wanting time on a shared resource.

So what is the workstation user who needs more power to do? We think the answer is to combine the functionality of the workstation and the cluster into one departmental system – like the Cray CX1. The Cray CX1 supports the NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards for high end graphics performance, delivering workstation capabilities based on Intel 5500 processors. It also supports in one low cost chassis up to 6 additional nodes for a full Intel 5500 based cluster, networked either through Gigabit Ethernet or InfiniBand.

This means the user gets all the power they need in a workstation, but the additional capability to scale-out their jobs in the cluster nodes - achieving cluster performance right there in the office. There is no dependence on IT, and no need to wait in line for a shared resource. The workstation user can get back to "work" with their Cray CX1 workstation and  get the job done faster.

Workstations used to be very cool, and with Intel 5500 processors and a Cray CX1, they are cool once again!

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Author Info


Ian Miller joined Cray in February 2008 and currently heads up Cray’s Productivity Solutions group with the recently introduced Cray CX1 desk side supercomputer – an Intel Cluster Ready product. Mr. Miller also leads Cray’s corporate marketing organization. Prior to joining Cray, he served as the Vice President of Polyserve Software at HP and as Vice President of Worldwide Sales for PolyServe prior to its acquisition by HP. Before joining PolyServe, Mr. Miller was Vice President of Worldwide sales for IBM High End xSeries Servers where he worked for both IBM xSeries and pSeries organizations, with a particular focus on marketing and sales for high end Intel based systems. Prior to IBM, he was Vice President of Global Marketing for Sequent Computer Systems, and Vice President Asia Pacific. Miller has also worked for Software AG as Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, and for Unisys in many capacities, ending as General Manager for Asia South. Mr. Miller is a Graduate of London University.