Supercomputing Lands on the Desktop in Cray CX1

Cray Inc. last week unveiled a $25,000 desktop supercomputer that it developed with Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp.

The Cray CX1, which runs the Windows HPC Server 2008 operating system, uses up to eight nodes and 16 Intel Xeon processors -- either dual-core or quad-core.

The CX1 has up to 4TB of internal storage and 64GB of memory per node, according to Cray. The system is priced from $25,000 to more than $60,000.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, said the CX1 represents a shift from the traditional model of pushing supercomputers "upward and out."

"Here's someone pushing down onto the desktop," said Enderle, noting that the new machine will likely appeal to existing Cray customers, who "will buy these to free up space on their $25 million supercomputers."

Cray said the CX1 is its first supercomputer based on Intel processors, and the first result of a joint effort launched by the two companies in April.

At that time, Cray and Intel said they planned to develop a range of multicore technologies and high-performance computers over the next several years.

Cray said it expects that the low-end supercomputer will appeal to midsize companies and corporate departments that have been unable to buy supercomputers because of the cost and a lack of in-house expertise.

Cray did not release performance specs on the CX1.

The world's most powerful supercomputer, IBM's Roadrunner, weighs 500,000 pounds and takes up 6,000 square feet. It runs at up to 1.026 petaflops and costs about $120 million. (See related story.)

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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