SGI Pushes ‘Big Data’ with 10 Gigabit Ethernet

Reinforcing its strategy of squarely targeting the high-performance computing market, Silicon Graphics today announced it will offer 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity across its product lines of servers, workstations, graphics systems and storage technologies.

SGI is offering the new PCI-X adapter option for customers who need to transfer massive datasets between large systems, or as an ingest engine for huge input-output data streams. By increasing Ethernet bandwidth up to 10 times over today’s standard interconnect speeds, SGI said its latest push will help customers move and process data via Ethernet faster than ever before.

Products now offering the 10 Gbps Ethernet include SGI Altix servers and superclusters, SGI Origin servers, Silicon Graphics Tezro visual workstations, Onyx visualization systems and SGI InfiniteStorage SAN, NAS and DLM technologies.

Complex Datasets

Clearly, customers in a broad range of advanced computing environments — including government, defense, sciences and media — are working with more complex datasets. Virtual cockpits used in distributed mission training, for example, process terabytes of data in real-time to produce interactive visual simulations that often are driven by multiple visualization systems and displays.

With 10 Gbps Ethernet connectivity, transferring simulation data from one virtual cockpit to the next — which is often required to synchronize training environments among multiple pilots — can happen in less time than it would take over traditional Ethernet connections.

“It’s standard for the 10-year ocean simulations running today to output datasets on the order of 2 terabytes,” said Walt Brooks, chief of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing division.

“Developers hope to improve the performance of this calculation to finish in one day,” he said. “Moving this volume of data between systems can slow down the development and data-analysis process. Faster LAN networks such as 10 Gbps Ethernet are needed to keep pace with the volume of data generated on today’s supercomputing systems.”

Big Media

In media environments, where bandwidth-hungry film and high-definition video content are time-sensitive, the SGI 10 Gbps Ethernet interface capabilities should help enable facilities to move data much more quickly.

For instance, in telecine environments, film is scanned and digitized and then stored as data. An entire feature film at high resolution could produce a dataset of some 8 to 10 terabytes during the editing, finishing and mastering process, so moving data of that magnitude quickly is crucial to meet theatrical release deadlines.

The 10 Gbps connectivity in SGI InfiniteStorage and the Tezro workstation offer one such solution to this problem for the media industry.

Users of SGI Servers and Systems

For users of SGI servers, NAS storage and visualization systems, SGI will offer the Xframe 10 Gigabit Ethernet card from S2io. The 10 Gbps Ethernet adapter for SGI systems can be placed in a standard PCI-X slot for port aggregation, potentially replacing multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports with a single 10 Gbps Ethernet port.

The IEEE 802.3ae-compliant card uses existing data-center infrastructure, requiring no changes to existing 50-micron cabling, operating systems or network administration tools.

According to SGI, the driver for this 10 Gbps Ethernet technology has been optimized to balance throughput performance with the quality of service in error handling and other demands of mission-critical production deployments.

Only Growing Larger

“Datasets are only growing larger, particularly in the high-performance computing and media environments,” said Andrew Fenselau, director of high-performance computing product marketing at SGI. “This new 10 Gbps Ethernet offering addresses the escalating need among our customers to move big data between large production systems and from storage environments as efficiently as possible.”

By allowing data-center customers to share files at 10 Gbps Ethernet speed, said Fenselau, SGI will help users increase their productivity with quicker remote access to their data over Ethernet. “We are extremely pleased to offer the Xframe card as another standard connectivity option for our customers’ high-performance, visualization and storage needs,” said Fenselau.

The 10 Gbps Ethernet adapter for SGI systems is available for both 64-bit Linux and Irix operating systems.

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