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  1. Technology
November 30, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Cray Research Inc duly unveiled its new Cray T3E scalable parallel processor and claimed $92m in advance orders for the system. The Digital Equipment Corp Alpha RISC-based machines scale to 2,048 processors for a theoretical peak performance of 1.2 TFLOPS; the entry price is lowered and upgrades can be made in smaller increments than with the T3D. It comes with a new Unicos/mk Unix System V-derived scalable operating system and GigaRing scalable input-output and networking channel, which will also be moved into Cray’s current and future supercomputers and even its business servers. Unicos/mk is claimed to be the first scalable operating system: it is a single operating system made up of microkernels and distributed across the system. It is designed to provide a single image and coherent view of all system resources for users and system administrators. Within the oeprating system, local servers process requests local to each processor, while global servers process system-wide requests. Where other vendors require a new copy of the operating system to be installed on each new node when a machine is expanded, Unicos/mk simply needs to be told the new number of processors. The GigaRing channel is described as the key component in the high-speed input-output and networking subsystem, with virtually unlimited capacity to store and move data into and out of systems at a peak speed of up to 128G-bytes per second, supporting Petabytes – millions of Gb – of disk capacity. The GigaRing, based on the Scalable Coherent Interface, is a bi-directional, dual-ring channel providing high-bandwidth connections in excess of 800M-bytes per second. Users are able to add input-output capacity to the system as it is needed. It supports distances of 35 feet between nodes, 600 feet with an optical channel option. The T3E machines range in price from $900,000 to $45m. As it did with the T3D, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center will get the first T3E, in March.

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