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SGI Deploys Ireland's Fastest Supercomputer (with Panasas parallel storage)

At Irish Centre for High-Performance Computing, new SGI Altix ICE system powers climate change and life sciences research

Sunnyvale, Calif. February 5, 2009 – Ireland's most powerful computer was installed in three hours and powered up in just one day, thanks to a rapidly deployable computing platform from Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI) that is transforming what users can expect from supercomputer deployments.

Installed in November at the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC), "Stokes," a new SGI Altix ICE 8200 system that operates at up to 25.1 trillion operations per second, is ranked No. 117 on the TOP500 list of the world's fastest computers. Perhaps more significantly, the latest ICHEC supercomputer delivers 87.6 percent of its peak performance when running the LINPACK benchmark -- the best efficiency of any industry-standard system appearing in the list's top 225 systems. This remains a serious factor for scientific and engineering institutes that use MPI and seek to minimize run times, processor counts and power use while maximizing job throughput.

ICHEC selected Silicon Graphics after a competitive evaluation in which the SGI Altix ICE system delivered the highest performance in benchmark tests. Other factors included low cost of ownership, Silicon Graphics' renowned application support and collaboration with customers, positive assessments from other SGI Altix ICE users, and the reliability and scalability of the acclaimed integrated blade platform.

The purchased was financed mainly through e-INIS, a national collaborative project coordinated by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and funded by Ireland's Higher Education Authority together with contributions from University College Dublin and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Operated by ICHEC on behalf of the Irish research community, the system will allow national researchers to address some of the world's most pressing scientific challenges.

The Altix ICE system will accelerate efforts to develop whole-earth weather and climate models, perform complex DNA sequencing, and simulate the immune response to HIV infection.

"This new system from Silicon Graphics not only meets the application performance levels the company promised, but it exceeds them," said Dr. J.-C. Desplat, associate director at ICHEC, Ireland's first national computing center. "We now have a national resource that dramatically improves our ability to solve more complex problems involving ever-larger data volumes. The SGI Altix ICE architecture gives researchers the flexibility to pursue multiple courses of investigation rapidly and interactively -- a vital advantage that simply was not available to them before now. On top of all this, the ability to use Stokes so quickly means we don't have to keep researchers at bay during a long, frustrating deployment. With Silicon Graphics, we were up and running right away."

The Future of Supercomputing: Immediate ROI

The ICHEC system is the latest installation of an acclaimed SGI platform that typifies a new kind of supercomputer -- one that delivers world-class performance without requiring months to put into service.

With a tightly integrated and modular design that simplifies deployment, the SGI Altix ICE platform allows customers to realize a return on their investment sooner than is possible with traditional supercomputer systems. For instance, the ICHEC system was available to users within three weeks of arriving on site.

"Now more than ever, organizations are under pressure to quickly derive value from their strategic technology investments," said Dr. Eng Lim Goh, chief technology officer of Silicon Graphics. "ICHEC's Stokes system makes good on that promise, delivering nearly immediate productivity to researchers with one of the world's most powerful supercomputers. Silicon Graphics is proud to provide the Republic of Ireland with this vital national resource."

Additional Details on Stokes:

  • Stokes is powered by 640 Intel Xeon processors (totaling 2,560 cores) and features 5.1 trillion bytes, or terabytes (TB), of memory. It is connected via InfiniBand an 84TB Panasas ActiveStor parallel file storage solution.
  • The Panasas solution utilizes Panasas' InfiniBand routers for seamless connectivity between compute and storage systems.
  • Reflecting the industry-standard nature of the SGI Altix ICE platform, ICHEC's system was deployed in custom racks from APC.
  • For more information on ICHEC research projects, visit:


ICHEC video

About e-INIS -- The Irish National e-Infrastructure

e-INIS ( is a federation of core electronic infrastructure providers dedicated to the provision of a sustainable national e-infrastructure for the support of advanced research activities in Ireland. The project is funded under the Irish Higher Education Authority's Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI), a component of the National Development Plan. By coordinating and consolidating the activities of the national research infrastructure providers, e-INIS provides a cohesive e-infrastructure of a scale that enables internationally competitive research. The acquisition of the SGI Altix ICE, by project partners ICHEC, is part of ongoing strategic activities intended to rationalise national investment in world-class ICT and support infrastructure.

About Silicon Graphics, Inc.

Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI) (NASDAQ: SGIC), is a leader in high-performance computing. SGI delivers a complete range of high-performance server and storage solutions along with industry-leading professional services and support that enable its customers to overcome the challenges of complex data-intensive workflows and accelerate breakthrough discoveries, innovation and information transformation. SGI solutions help customers solve their computing challenges whether it's enhancing the quality of life through drug research, designing and manufacturing safer and more efficient cars and airplanes, studying global climate, providing technologies for homeland security and defense, or helping enterprises manage large data. With offices worldwide, the company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., and can be found on the Web at

About Panasas

Panasas, Inc., the leading provider of high-performance storage for the world’s most performance-intensive applications, helps commercial, government and academic organizations accelerate their time to results leading to real world breakthroughs that improve people’s lives. Panasas’ high-performance storage systems enable customers to maximize the benefits of compute clusters by eliminating the storage bottleneck created with legacy network storage technologies. Panasas ActiveStor Parallel Storage Clusters, in conjunction with the ActiveScale® Operating Environment and PanFS™ parallel file system, offers the most comprehensive portfolio of storage solutions for high performance computing (HPC) environments. Panasas is headquartered in Fremont, California.For more information, please visit

Panasas, ActiveScale, DirectFLOW and PanFS are trademarks or registered trademarks of Panasas, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Panasas, Inc. Media Contact
Susan Trainer
Trainer Communications
(925) 964-9134