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More on Acer's plans to sell into HPC: it will use the Gateway brand

Holstein-patterned shipping crates on your loading dock?

Gateway logoIn our feature earlier this week on the Opteron 6100 launch I mentioned that John Fruehe listed an HPC partner I hadn’t heard of before: Acer. During our conversation Fruehe mentioned that Acer is building an HPC business of all things in Europe and Asia, and is beefing up for a push into the North American HPC space next year.

The Register has more on Acer’s HPC plans in an article this week. Acer evidently intends to collect its HPC line under the Gateway brand, which it purchased in 2007. Acer started its HPC push outside the US, but Joe Fay reports that it plans to move into North America starting in the second half of this year, earlier than AMD had told me.

The vendor said it expected four per cent of its revenues to come from servers if it makes its target. It will target North America in the second half of the year.

…The vendor will pitch its 2U GW2000h w GW175h and GW2000ht w GW175ht at HPC apps. They will pack two 6000s per node. The first configuration will pack four nodes and be pitched at mid-range and HPC apps. The newly-added HTs will offer two nodes, with a GPU per node, and be pitched at SMBs and graphics-intensive applications.

This HPC play is part of Acer’s move into the enterprise in general, but the choice of Gateway branding is odd. To my mind Gateway is a personal electronics brand that I remember from the early days of personal desktop computers, and from advertisements in Computer Shopper (oh yeah, baby! Floppy disks by the 100s). There was even a Gateway store in my admittedly backwoods part of the country, and this was before Best Buy and Walmart made buying computers something you could consider as you picked up a new CD or a head of lettuce.

But Gateway HPC? Doesn’t make sense. As both Dell and Microsoft found out, it takes more than just a well-recognized brand to sell HPC gear. HPC buyers aren’t wiling to give you credit for being well known: you have to be smarter than they are, and really good at what you do. Both Microsoft and Dell have spent considerable time and money building world-class engineering teams after they first dipped their toes in our waters and pulled back a throbbing extremity. At least they had the advantage of being successful enterprise brands, a case Gateway can’t make being most well known for selling cheap personal computers in unusual boxes using a direct sales model they borrowed from Dell.

Commodore HPC?

Acer would have been better off to use its Acer brand and sell people on the idea that it was starting from a base of knowing how to build computers and developing the expertise to sell enterprise and HPC systems. At least then it wouldn’t have to also overcome the problem of slapping the label of a failed consumer brand on its gear.

Maybe I’ll see if I can acquire the Commodore brand and start my own line of supercomputers. Or Amiga.

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