Cray announced an interesting twist to their CX-1 line of personal supercomputers this morning. They have officially announced the new variant on the CX-1 line, the CX-1iWS [the 'iWS stands for "integrated workstation"]. The CX-1iWS combines Windows 7 workstation with a fully integrated cluster system running Windows HPC Server 2008. The additional twist is that they will sell the machine exclusively through Dell! One of the interesting notes I’ve heard from recent ‘personal supercomputer’ owners is that the “head node” doesn’t satisfy their needs outside of HPC. It looks like the folks at Cray have listened.
The Cray CX1-iWS puts the ‘work’ back in workstation by delivering a powerhouse of functionality to the workstation user or workgroup. The integration of workstation and cluster in one unit, with shared storage between them, means that users can easily move their jobs from the workstation to the cluster side of the box without moving their data or leaving the familiar Microsoft operating system environment,” said Ian Miller, senior vice president of the productivity solutions group and marketing at Cray. “With this new product, Cray expects to provide HPC capability to a wide new audience that includes R&D groups in small and medium-size businesses, organizations needing to solve problems beyond the limits of traditional workstations, and people wanting to implement distributed HPC in the enterprise.”
Combining Windows 7 and Windows HPC Server 2008 in a single, integrated workstation experience will deliver HPC capabilities to a new customer base that sees value in the ease-of-use of the Windows 7 operating system paired with the compute capability of a powerful cluster resource,” said Vince Mendillo, senior director of high performance computing at Microsoft. “The Cray CX1-iWS system is one of the most powerful Windows workstations ever, and a must-have for those looking to realize the benefits of HPC.”
Each system comes with one dual-socket visualization workstation [Windows 7] and a three node compute cluster [HPC Server 2008], added storage and a 16 port Gigabit Ethernet switch. Three standard configs are available, all based on different Intel Xeon 5500 series bins and up to 24GB of memory.
This solution will help bring HPC to an even wider community of scientists and researchers outside the walls of marquee labs and universities,” said Frank Muehleman, vice president and manager of Dell’s North American public-sector business. “Working with partners like Microsoft and Cray, we continue to enable customers to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges using industry-standard technologies.”
The Dell exclusivity is a strange twist on this product. However, is it such a bad thing? Dell has the marketing might to really infiltrate markets with key products. Depending on what sort of margins are available back to Cray, this may prove to be a good source of cash flow for the company. For more info, read their full release here.