Intel's interconnect business grows after buying Cray's technolgy

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2012 - 10:03 AM |
Tagged: purchase, interconnect, Intel, cray, aries

Anyone who follows the supercomputer business has had quite a bit of excitement recently, with major shifts in the market becoming quite frequent.  Intel started it off by purchasing QLogic's Infiniband networking technology which allows the connection of separate high performance computers over an extremely low latency and high bandwidth path, utilizing PCIe.  This will give Intel a big edge when clustering multiple HPCs on a network. 

Next it was AMD's turn as they snagged SeaMicro out from underneath Intel's nose and purchased the rights to their 3D torus interconnect technology.  This is a processor agnostic interconnect for within an HPC which is targeted at low power processors and is specifically designed to get the most efficient use of every watt that the system consumes.  This could lead to some ironic HPCs which use AMD's interconnect technology to link together large amounts of Intel Atom processors.

cray23.jpg

Today a bigger change was announced, to the tune of $140 million, as Intel purchased Cray's interconnect technology.  This architecture is the polar opposite of SeaMicro's and focuses on creating the most massively powerful HPCs possible on current technology and requires an immense amount of electricity to power.  For quite a while Cray utilized AMD's HyperTransport technology and favoured large amounts of Opteron processors to power its supercomputers but that relationship soured thanks AMD's supply problems and delayed technology refreshes.  Cray abandoned AMD and never even looked at Intel's QPI, instead they designed an interconnect technology of their own, one which could use any processor.  Now that technology belongs to Intel.  You can see what The Register thinks this move signifies in their full article.

"Intel really is taking networking and system interconnects very seriously, and is buying the interconnect hardware business from massively parallel supercomputer maker Cray for $140m."

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Source: The Register