High performance computing company Silicon Graphics (SGI) claims to have developed the world's most powerful Linux-based system range.
Analysts said that the power of Linux-based systems will increase further this year.
The SGI Altix 3000 Series combines up to 64 Intel Itanium 2 64-bit processors, and uses SGI's NUMAflex global shared memory architecture to create a single supercomputer.
And later this year, each system 'node' can also be clustered with others to give a maximum of 512 processors (eight nodes), rising to a theoretical maximum of 2,048.
"It's built like a cluster but works like a supercomputer," explained John Fleming, SGI's high performance computing business development manager.
"It combines the architecture of the Origin 3000 [SGI's Mips chip-based supercomputer] with industry standard Intel, producing some very interesting performance results."
The company claimed that the new system is the world's most powerful, and issued 'world record' benchmarks to back its claims, including new Stream Triad and SPECfp marks.
Standard Red Hat Linux can be installed on the system, but SGI recommends a modified version with Altix 3000 performance optimisation. This includes SGI's CXFS shared file system that shares storage between systems.
Mike Davis, senior researcher at analyst Butler Group, told vnunet.com: "This is yet another major endorsement for Linux as the server operating system of the future.
"It is the ideal operating system for large clusters, and another nail in the coffin for proprietary Unix brands."
Fleming stated that application vendors are pushing for Linux as their porting platform of choice.
Managing 64 processors as a single image also means that applications are easy to deploy, and resource utilisation is maximised, he added.
Davis acknowledged that SGI will remain a niche player in Linux, but said that its competitors will make similar steps.
"SGI has cracking kit, superbly engineered, and this raises the bar again. Expect to see Linux announcements from competitors this year," he said.
There are two models available in four-processor multiples. The single-node 4-12 processor 3300 with up to 96GB memory starts at around £45,000.
The 3700 supports 4-64 processors per node and multiple nodes up to the maximum 2,048 processors with 16TB memory.
Pricing for 16- and 64-processor systems will be around £210,000 and £710,000 respectively. Shipments are due to begin in mid-February.
Open source software is increasingly finding a place in the business world.
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