Compaq has been awarded a multimillion dollar supercomputing contract in Australia, superseding an earlier contract for the same project with Sun Microsystems.
The supercomputer has been installed at the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC). It is to be used for scientific and engineering research, as well as in areas such as molecular modelling for new drugs and pattern discovery for fraud detection.
APAC is a partnership of seven organisations involving most Australian universities and the country's largest scientific and industrial research agency, CSIRO.
APAC's decision to use Compaq equipment came after it abandoned an earlier decision to use Sun servers because the systems did not meet acceptable standards for the project.
According to Terry Shannon, IT consultant and publisher of the Shannon Knows Compaq newsletter, Compaq wrested the APAC supercomputer deal away from Sun.
Shannon said Sun installed four E10000 systems, Sun's highest-end mainframe-like servers, but the machines did not stay up long enough to pass the initial acceptance test. "APAC put out the bid again and Compaq sent in the big guns and won the contract. Compaq has also passed the initial testing," Shannon said.
Shannon said he looks at Sun like the Clinton administration. "They both have phenomenal marketing teams. Sun doesn't have state of the art hardware but the company is successful because of its marketing."
He also said Sun's product line is over-the-hill and that no new systems are out yet. "I wouldn't write Sun off, but the company is in for much rougher times than over the past few years."
As part of the three-year alliance, Compaq will provide an initial system which consists of the top-of-the-line AlphaServer ES4x quadprocessor nodes, which includes more than 450 Alpha processors and system and development software.
Sun won the original $5m, three-year APAC contract last August. The deal called for the system to have been updated to a 1-TFLOPS system based on Sun's new UltraSPARC III processor technology.
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