New Interconnect Technology Delivers Terascale Clustering Capabilities

11/19/2002 - Sun Microsystems introduced its Sun Fire[tm] Link interconnect, a breakthrough technology that boosts high-end functionality in the data center and supports industry-leading 4.8 gigabytes per second peak throughput and peak performance of more than a TeraFlop -- one trillion floating-point operations per second -- in a cluster of systems. The state-of-the-art optical interconnect technology dramatically accelerates cluster communication among up to eight high-end Sun systems -- from the Sun Fire 6800 to the Sun Fire 15K server -- powering up to 800 processors.

The high-bandwidth, low-latency interconnect enables customers to build superclusters that can function as a collective -- virtualized -- system capable of linear scaling as nodes are added. Sun researchers have achieved industry high marks for cluster performance with sustained 2.8 gigabytes per second bandwidth and MPI latency rates under four microseconds. With Sun Fire Link interconnect, Sun has increased speeds at which data is shared, while delivering bandwidth an order of magnitude greater than standard, commodity interconnects.

Sun plans to sell new supercomputing clusters based on Sun Fire Link technology as a new offering called Galaxy-class configurations for high-end education, research and government facilities.

"With the Sun Fire Link interconnect, Sun is resetting the standard for supercluster throughput performance," said Steve Campbell, vice president of marketing, Enterprise Systems Products Group, Sun Microsystems. "This is industry-leading technology, with over eight times the bandwidth of IBM's SP Switch2, and more than four times better MPI latency rates. Whether it's in a research lab, commercial HPTC environment or a data center, Sun's new technology delivers the highest degree of network computing performance with exceptional high availability to meet the requirements of our customers' mission critical computing needs."

High Performance, High Availability
For the demands of high performance and technical computing (HPTC), applications that support MPI (Message Passing Interface), such as Sun HPC ClusterTools[tm] software, can run in a cluster and benefit from Sun Fire Link interconnect's low latency and blazing throughput. High availability features, including link striping -- which enables the combination of up to four Sun Fire Link channels in parallel - and hot-swap components, answer the requirements of the most demanding environments.

High availability is further assured by auto fail-over, triple redundancy that is built into the design of the new interconnect technology via dual links per assembly, dual assemblies per system, all supported by dual switches.

Sun Fire Link is also an interconnect used with Sun's commercial clustering product, Sun[tm] Cluster. The high data rate and low latency of the Sun Fire Link interconnect will help customers benefit from higher performance by increasing the level of confidence and predictability of the SunPlex[tm] environment, Sun's high availability platform for managing application service levels. Applications within the SunPlex environment, using Sun Cluster 3.0 software, can leverage this interconnect for improved performance. As the demands of HPTC and commercial computing environments increasingly converge, the Sun Fire Link interconnect will set the standard for supercomputing throughput performance, without sacrificing the high availability requirements of today's data centers.

Running POP ocean modeling code, for example, resulted in significantly better scaling with Sun Fire Link than can be obtained with commodity interconnects. Sun tested a cluster of Sun Fire[tm] 6800 servers, powered by 128 UltraSPARC® III processors and Sun Fire Link technology, with performance results that were three times faster than the same configuration connected with Gigabit Ethernet technology.

Supercomputing Facilities Choose Sun's New Galaxy-Class Offerings
Improving their rankings among the world's most powerful supercomputing facilities, Canada's High Performance Computing Virtual Laboratory (HPCVL), Germany's Aachen University of Technology and the United Kingdom's Cambridge-Cranfield High Performance Computing Facility are each deploying Galaxy-class configurations from Sun Microsystems.

"Sun's new Sun Fire Link interconnect gives researchers at HPCVL a tremendous increase in throughput within a wide variety of applications," said Dr. Ken Edgecombe, Executive Director of the HPCVL, Canada's highest rated supercomputing facility according to the "Top 500" list. "Scalable cluster performance is important to HPCVL and the researchers who rely on Sun's technology to perform complex calculations in real-life applications such as chemistry, economics, mechanical engineering, physics and psychology."

Sun's new Galaxy-class configurations -- ranging from 144 to 800 processors, and currently up to 1.68 Teraflops -- are based on superclusters of up to eight high-end Sun Fire servers clustered together with Sun Fire Link technology. They are expected to be particularly compelling to high performance technical computing markets, including education, scientific research and government/defense. Even the smallest of these Galaxy-class configurations will be designed to help customers qualify on the world's top 500 supercomputing list. Additionally, Sun's HPC ClusterTools environment provides a full-featured, scalable MPI-based application development and run-time environment for the Galaxy-class offerings.

Galaxy-class configuration customers in the education market will also join an elite community of Sun customers worldwide as a Center of Excellence (COE), gaining expanded opportunities for partnership with Sun and other institutions participating in the Center of Excellence program.

About Sun Microsystems
Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision -- "The Network Is The Computer[tm]" -- has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) to its position as a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services that make the Net work. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries.

Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo, Sun Fire, HPC ClusterTools, SunPlex, Solaris and The Network Is The Computer are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All SPARC trademarks are used under license and are trademarks or registered trademarks of SPARC International, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Products bearing SPARC trademarks are based upon an architecture developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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