Fujitsu Dives Into High-Performance Computing

Wednesday Apr 6th 2005 by Clint Boulton

With IBM and HP in its sights, the systems vendor is throwing its hat into the high-performance computing ring.

Intel's Itanium 2 chip is getting a shot in the arm by Fujitsu Computer Systems (FCS), which this week unveiled a high-performance computing server based on the much-maligned processor.

Designed to compete with systems from IBM and HPthe new PrimeQuest server line runs Windows and Linux. FCS said the machines will be used to power large databases and process online transactions.

Officials of the Sunnyvale, Calif., Fujitsu subsidiary showed off the PrimeQuest 440 and 480 machines at a launch event in San Francisco. FCS was joined on stage by executives from Intel, Microsoft, Red Hat and Oracle.

The vendors agreed to support FCS' goal to grow its high-end server market share to 15 percent. FCS aims to sell 10,000 PrimeQuest systems for roughly $2 billion in revenues over the next three years.

The move should also boost the Itanium chip line, abandoned by IBM and orphaned by HP, which sent it back to Intel to produce alone.

The 440 runs 16 1.50 GHz Itanium 2 (Madison) chips, while the 480 is a 32-way system running 1.60 GHz Madison chips. Both systems run Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, Novell/SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter and Enterprise for Itanium.

The PrimeQuest systems boast up to eight isolated partitions, with each one being an independent "server" within the system. This creates a high level of fault tolerance, because if one machine stops working, the others continue to operate. Such capabilities are prized by financial organizations, whose transaction systems must run at all times.

For example, Richard McCormack, senior vice president at Fujitsu, said on a web cast of the event that a stock exchange that wants to run with 100 percent availability would be able to take the system board, break it into two and simultaneously run two separate sets of memory, crossbars and chipsets within the one platform at the same time.

McCormack also said FCS has employed new technology called "flexible I/O" (FIO) in the PrimeQuest products. FIO allows the machines to automatically redirect input/output resources to different partitions in case of a system failure.

The executive cited a billing application example. By day, a PrimeQuest can run a billing process, with another doing order entry. In the evening, users can reconfigure the partitions automatically while the system is online, increasing or decreasing I/O in each partition, McCormack said.

McCormack said Fujitsu will pump $300 million into Itanium during the next few years. But the server maker will need broad support for the PrimeQuest line as it tries to overtake IBM and HP in the server market. IBM gave up on Itanium, opting to drop support for the chip with its X3 chip-set architecture.

At the same time, the company must continue to nurture its tight server relationship with Sun Microsystems, whose Sparc64 V chip architecture is used to power Fujitsu's PrimePower servers. Fujitsu must also tend to its Primergy line, high-volume Intel servers that span from one to eight processors.

Fujitsu officials said they did not anticipate this will be a problem because the PrimeQuest line addresses different markets than the Primergy and PrimePower lines. All of the machines fall under a strategy Fujitsu calls Triole, which aims to virtualize, automate, and integrate servers with storage and middleware to provide a utility computing environment.

PrimeQuest will be available on Linux in June, with Windows Server 2003 versions to come in September.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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