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

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2012 - 01:03 PM |
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.

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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

Letting the enthusiast down is one thing AMD, disappointing a major partner is another

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2012 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: amd, cray, interlagos

Many consumers have been annoyed with AMD this year, from the enthusiast on the bleeding edge trying to track down the elusive HD6990 to the bargain conscious market looking for  a Llano based system.  It certainly hurt AMDs bottom line to have product shortages and it has alienated customers to the point where they may not consider AMD parts in the future.  The shortages also ensured that AMD will miss an entire generation of laptops and pre-built PCs since assemblers like Dell and HP needed a guaranteed solid supply of chips before they would consider selling a product line based on those chips. 

The Register reported on even worse news for AMD this morning, it seems that Cray will miss their targeted revenue for Q4 2011 and it seems to be AMDs fault.  The delay of the Interlagos based APUs which Cray was basing its new line of high powered clusters on.  This is not the first time that this has happened, Cray has been burned by Opteron delays before.  In response Cray is designing a new cluster architecture that will be able to interconnect Intel and AMD chips over PCIe 3.0 lanes.  

These Cray machines that are being delayed have another problem as well.  Not only do they depend on the delayed Opterons they are also planned to incorporate NVIDIA's Kepler HPC cards which are suffering from a serious case of the delays as well.  Seems like it is a bad quarter to be Cray.

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"Cray is going to miss its revenue targets for the fourth quarter, the company warned Wall Street this morning before the markets opened, and it has pointed its finger (without naming names) directly at its main processor supplier, Advanced Micro Devices, as the cause of the miss."

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Source: The Register