HP to offer high-performance, out-of-the-box Linux clusters

Hewlett-Packard is preparing a line of turn-key high-performance Linux cluster products for release at the Linuxworld Conference...

Hewlett-Packard is preparing a line of turn-key high performance Linux cluster products for release at the Linuxworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco this August.

The systems, which will be called HP XC Clusters, will be based on both Xeon and Itanium microprocessors and will come in a variety of standard configurations designed to simplify the job of setting up and supporting a Linux cluster.

"We are working on building our portfolio to include preassembled and preconfigured cluster systems," said Alanna Dwyer, HP's Linux marketing manager for high-performance technical computing division at HP.

"These are going to be some of HP's first products that are verified and certified solutions, that are already tested and are quick and easy to buy," she said.

HP hoped the systems would open the clustering market to a wider range of corporate users who may not have the in-house expertise to set up a custom Linux cluster.

High-performance Linux clusters were originally designed as a way of providing cheap and powerful computers for researchers and academics, but they have recently been embraced by the commercial world where they are now being used for a growing range of number-crunching applications including automotive simulation, petroleum exploration,and genetic sequencing.

The XC clusters will come in a variety of configurations, supporting anywhere from 16 to 256 Xeon or Itanium 2 nodes, HP said.

HP has already begun certifying high-performance clustering software from a variety of third parties, including Scyld Computing, Scali, MSC Software, as well as the free NPACI (National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure) Rocks cluster distribution.

Because highly technical users typically put clustered systems together in a variety of different ways, they have created a moving target for independent software developers, according to IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky.

Some sort of standard clustered system could make life easier for developers, he said, provided it was built on open standards. "Having some kind of uniform platform that everybody's agreed to would be beneficial. That's the foundation needed to build a market," he added.

Throughout the summer, HP will work with customers and partners to build these and other applications into a number of turn-key cluster products, the first of which will be announced at LinuxWorld in August.

"We're taking a lot of the expertise that we've had in clusters, and bringing that over to a Linux platform to really bring Linux clustering capabilities to a commercial enterprise," said Dwyer.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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