Over time, several different companies have produced both supercomputers as well as server computers that have been used in business, research, higher education and in government and private agencies. One such company is Silicon Graphics, producing the SGI Altix line of server computers and supercomputers.
The Altix 3000
Originally the line of SGI Altix included the Altix 330 through the 3700 Bx2. This line, known as the Altix 3000 was first introduced in 2003 and featured the Linux environment and servers. This line was discontinued at the end of 2006.
One of the most famous of the supercomputers using the Altix 3000 system was the Columbia supercomputer used by NASA. This featured twenty Atrix 3000 systems, with each system composed of 512 microprocessors. Originally put to use in 2004, it was officially decommissioned in 2013.
The Altix 4000
As the next in the line, the SGI Altix 4000 had two different models, the 450 and the 4700. These included a mid-range and a high-end server with up to 128 terabytes of memory.
They also feature a blade, which is a stripped down server, in each node. This allowed for increased space saving and optimal configuration for rack-mount units. These individual rack units or IRU are designed to be self-contained including the power supplies, router boards, and controllers.
The Altix EX and ICE
With the SGI Altix EX servers, there are a number of models available that include different features and clusters. These systems support both Linux servers, including Red Hat and Novell SuSE, as well as Microsoft Windows.
The Altix ICE system is based on diskless blades and what is known as a Hierarchical Management Framework or HMF. This allows for easy scalability and also increased power and performance. The NASA Pleiades supercomputer uses the Altix ICE technology and features 51,200 cores, and it is ranked as the 11th fastest computer in the world today.
This is the latest in the Altix line, and it was officially introduced in 2009. It continues to enhance performance while decreasing its physical size. It also features four, six, or eight core Intel Xeon 7500 processors. Like its predecessors the Altix UV offers SuSE Linux Enterprise servers or Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and can be scaled up to 2,048 cores.
Officially, the SGI Altix name was officially retired by the company throughout 2010 and 2011. Then new lines from SGI simply bear their name and UV or ICE. The old XE line is officially designated as the SGI Rackable.
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