As Sun Microsystems prepares to demonstrate a new high-performance computer at a technology conference in Germany, it hopes that quad-core processors from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) will power the computer and arrive on time to deliver one of the machines to its first customer.
Sun is going to introduce its Constellation system at the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden, at which other supercomputer makers are gathering. The conference will also see the release of the twice-yearly list of the world's Top 500 supercomputers.
IBM, whose Blue Gene/L supercomputer was number one in a November 2006 Top 500 list based on system performance, will introduce what it says is a still faster Blue Gene/P.
Sun chose the AMD Opteron quad-core chip, code-named Barcelona, over rival Intel's quad-core Xeon 5300 chip. Andreas Bechtolsheim, chief architect and senior vice president of the systems group at Sun believes AMD’s to be "the fastest chip on the market this year" and is “still hopeful that they will deliver the chips on time." Sun also hopes Constellation can be out in time to be considered for the November Top 500 list.
AMD's stock was downgraded on the 6 June by some investment analysts who questioned the chip maker's ability to deliver Barcelona on time. But AMD spokesman Phil Hughes said that "we're still on track" for a Barcelona launch in the autumn.
Constellation is targeting IBM which held an industry-leading 47.8% market share on the earlier Top 500 list, because its Blue Gene line is "the fastest machine out there," Bechtolsheim acknowledged. But Sun's Constellation is built with open industry standard components, such as x64 processors, Sun blade servers, Sun Fire x4500 storage, and open source Solaris or Linux operating system software, while IBM's Blue Gene is built from custom-made components.