Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
In a message the other day I wrote about how I like the fact that Cray has made HPC (high-performance computing) and cluster computing affordable with its CX1 deskside supercomputer. Now, they've gone one better with their Cray CX1-LC deskside supercomputer.
LC means Light Configuration, but this is not a light anything. Think of the CX1-LC as beginning at the price point where high-end workstations max out, only it has more power from the get-go. Consequently, the CX1-LC gives the chance to have an ultra very high-end workstation and a small cluster in a single unit next to your desk starting at about $12,000 or so.
Cray has a build it for your needs approach to HPC and cluster computing like everybody else ... except they put it together, which is startlingly different than many cluster setups. They do, of course, have suggested, customizable units. This all means you can select your own compute nodes, processors, storage options, visualization power, RAM, monitor, and so forth to fit your needs and budget like you would do for your home PC.
But the CX1-LC is not a home PC. It can handle up to eight Intel Xeon processors, up to four compute blades, InfiniBand, Tesla, etc. It's certified as Intel Cluster Ready, and runs either Windows HPC Server 2008 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Still, you plug the CX1-LC into a standard outlet when it arrives, and you can come back later and upgrade as needed. The importance of all these convenience factors that match that of home PCs cannot be overstated for the resource-starved engineering outfit.
So, I say the CX1-LC costs about $12,000, but you can run wild building your own. I did playing with the configuration link from today's Pick of the Week write-up. I configured a breathtaking cluster resource that could handle a crew of engineers doing high-end analyses and me playing Spider Solitaire for twice the standard cost, including giving myself a wireless keyboard, a 30-inch monitor, and a year of Microsoft support. So, your actual cost will depend on what you do.
And that's the thing. The idea behind the CX-1 line is to get HPC and cluster computing into engineering, research, and scientific workgroups that have been shut out by the price and the lack of IT expertise to put all the pieces together. The CX1-LC is designed and optimized to be the HPC supercomputer that you design and optimize for what you do, with as little of the IT setup fussing around as possible.
With the CX1-LC, Cray has further lowered the price bar to entry into the realm of supercomputing for engineers, researchers, and scientists. Learn more about the Cray CX1-LC from today's Pick of the Week write-up.
Thanks, pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine
Read today's Pick of the Week write-up.