High-performance servers created for midsize companies

High-performance servers created for midsize companies

ScaleMP aggregates x86 machines to create more powerful systems

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

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

ScaleMP started developing its technology in 2003 and began selling it 18 months ago through systems manufacturers, who mainly targeted Global 1000 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 (VARs), such as Supermicro. ScaleMP this week also announced an US$8 million round of funding that brings total venture investments up to US$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 platform for less than US$10,000, ScaleMP says.

This lets customers obtain symmetric multiprocessor computers using basic x86 systems, ScaleMP says. This model is about 70 per cent less expensive "compared to traditional four-socket systems, in addition to 25 per cent power consumption savings and 50 per cent rack-space savings," it 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's 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 one terabyte of RAM. A virtual system based on the new version that targets midsize companies would have 16 cores if it uses quad-core processors.

ScaleMP founder Fultheim previously was CTO of Israeli venture-capital fund BRM Capital, and before that led operations and engineering groups in the Israeli Defense Force's central intelligence unit.

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