Low-cost, high-performance servers on tap for midsize companies

An innovative virtualization vendor called ScaleMP Inc. is attempting to bring high-performance computing to midsize companies with a model that is essentially the opposite of VMware Inc.'s: Instead of carving an x86 server into numerous partitions, ScaleMP aggregates multiple x86 machines and turns them into one powerful computer.

Aberdeen Group Inc. analyst Jeffrey Hill called ScaleMP's technology "quite astounding." Without such technology, a business could join x86 machines in a clustering model, but this would require IT expertise typically beyond what small and midmarket companies possess, he said. ScaleMP makes high-performance computing affordable and easy enough that it becomes obtainable for a workgroup within a midsize business, he said.

ScaleMP started developing its technology in 2003 and began selling it 18 months ago through systems manufacturers, which mainly targeted Global 1,000 businesses, according to ScaleMP founder and CEO Shai Fultheim.

This week, ScaleMP announced a new version of its technology that targets midsize companies and is being distributed through value-added resellers (VAR) such as Supermicro. ScaleMP this week also announced an $8 million round of funding that brings total venture investments up to $26 million from Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, TL Ventures and ABS Ventures.

The new software product, vSMP Foundation Standalone, lets customers connect two dual-socket Intel Xeon processor-based systems with InfiniBand to create a four-socket system for less than $10,000, ScaleMP says.

This lets customers obtain symmetric multiprocessor computers using basic x86 systems, ScaleMP says. (Compare server products.) This model is about 70% less expensive than "traditional four-socket systems, in addition to 25% power consumption savings and 50% rack-space savings," the company states in a press release.

"Once loaded into the memory of each of the system boards, vSMP Foundation aggregates the computer, memory and I/O capabilities of each system and presents a unified virtual system to both the operating system and the applications running above the operating system," the vendor says.

The higher-end version of this technology that has been on the market for 18 months uses as many as 16 x86 servers to create a system with as many as 128 cores and 1TB of RAM.

A virtual system based on the new version that targets midsize companies would have 16 cores if it uses quad-core processors.

Fultheim previously was chief technology officer of Israeli venture-capital fund BRM Capital, and before that, he led operations and engineering groups in the Israeli Defense Force's central intelligence unit. ScaleMP is based in Cupertino, Calif.

This story, "Low-cost, high-performance servers on tap for midsize companies" was originally published by Network World.

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